Inspired by Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried*
*I’ve never been to war, and I am not in the military; I have a lot of fight in me, and I’ve been through some battles. Love is a battlefield, sure. The classroom. The house I grew up in. The marriage I left; I’ve had my share of battles, but like a warrior (my high school mascot) I carry on.
She carried her laughter, her lightness, and something quite new: skepticism. Just enough to keep her safe, yet new enough that it felt heavy, like a pair of boots that haven’t yet been broken in. You’re aware of them because they are a little bit uncomfortable both because they are new, but also because you wish you didn’t need boots. You wish you could just go around barefoot, but you can’t anymore because you’ve stubbed your toe and stepped on stickers too many times. But the boots also meant she still had hope and that she was able to learn. She carried her hope proudly. She carried just enough hope to keep her happy, and she had been carrying that for as long as she could remember, and it kept her light. And it was caused by years of witnessing goodness, by watching people in public treating others with kindness, by seeing an outpouring of support in times of need, by all of her students who she’d seen do incredible things, by her family members who also hoped for the best. Hope was like a rainbow: You knew it took a storm to create, and that made it even more beautiful. She carried laughter with her always. And she was learning to take it out even more. She laughed at herself all the time. It was the best way she found to deal with things. She would always carry these things: hope, lightness, laughter, and caution….