Yesterday I went for an hour long walk. It was fantastic. I've never enjoyed walking quickly as much as I do now that I've lived in London. One hour of walking=loads of head clearing. Lots of remembering. One day in the summer of 2005, I was in Italy, camping on a family campground in the countryside outside of Florence. I was on my own, save for the Kiwi couple I met at the train station with whom I played cards almost all night the night before. I was sitting alone in my "cabin," and it was terribly quiet except for the occasional German kid yelling at his sibling. I was crying. I cried out loud...to break the silence. I cried for myself, but not for my losses. I cried for the overwhelming sense of being totally and entirely alone in the world. My ideas about love and family had fallen apart after twenty-four years. It's hard to explain. I had no connections, nothing to hold me down, nothing to hold me close. So I cried because I didn't know who I was any more. Because I had forgotten.
Here is what I have remembered.
Nancy Caroline Allen
Daughter of Martha Lois Nevills
and James Anthony Allen
Born in Hickory, North Carolina
Raised in Memphis, Tennessee
Grandchild of Minnie C and Ruth
Student of Music, Theatre, Literature, Language
Teacher of English, Writing
Resident of Abilene, Dallas, Shenandoah National Park, London, Pilsen
Citizen of United States of America
a child of God
I give thanks for those that have taught me how to see the world
how to laugh
for those that have challenged me
for those that have taught me sacrifice
those that have taught me perseverance
for those that have loved me
for those that have stretched my heart harder and further than I ever imagined possible
I am overwhelmed with the love that has been stuffed inside of me, all the way up to the top, pouring over...terrifying...satisfying...infinite.
I am grateful for the fear that life has instilled in me...and also for the fearlessness that living requires.
Yes, I believe we are shaped by our memories. My soul is covered in fingerprints, and as much as I would like to polish some of them away, they remain. The years behind me are imprinted from the inside out...the rings of a tree, immovable. I remember when the scariest thing in my life was trying to figure out how to light the gas heater upstairs at my grandmother's house. I didn't. Instead I found as many blankets as I could, and I buried myself beneath them. I have never been alone. I woke up hours later to the sound of the gas feeding the blue flames. The clocks ticking. Old pictures in old frames smiling down at me. Who does that make me? A piece of the bigger picture of my complex and fascinating family...unconventional...indescribable. And not just blood.
Yes. Pain gets deep down into the cracks and crevices, and sometimes I cry like a baby. Sometimes I sob. I am grateful for the pain.
Finally, I give thanks for words. There are too many and never enough.