Taking Back The Power That Rests With The Places That Haunt You Is A Process

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Regardless of where you grow up, it’s not unusual to have places you dislike. There’s the backroad where he broke up with you. The corner where the girl you met online turned her cheek on you when you went in for a kiss. There’s the first subway platform you remember crying on from that first time you felt New York defeat you. 

My place is 8 stories tall, runs the length of a block and has my name on it. Inadvertently, I found myself looking up at it for longer than I ever have and the more I did, the smaller it felt. It was hard to imagine how it held so much of me. Maybe I sat and stared because I was coming back to collect the pieces of my heart I’d left in the 8th floor ICU and sprinkled out the building, down the block, towards the river, the last time I walked that path almost 4 years ago. 

Maybe I stared because I could. Because looking at the east side windows didn’t remind me of the tears I cried while sitting on the sill of the west side ones.

Maybe if you start looking at painful places from the opposite end, maybe that’s when you start to heal.

It’s all about perspective, right? 

I am 4 years older than my last first time walking into that building. Maybe that’s why I sat and stared for an hour. 

I texted my boyfriend while laying on my back, watching clouds pass me by, tracing the building into the depths of the blue and the depths of my own mind. Maybe he’s why I sat and stared. Because maybe he’s the reason I’m okay looking up and back.

Words are just words when I tell them to him. Memories don’t hold power over me, I hold power over them. I put them on paper and freeze them in time the way he captures me when we’re at dinner and he snaps a picture from across the table. 

As I lay on my back and feel an ant crawl up my shin, I think about how small I am in a world that’s so large, but how that doesn’t mean I can’t take up space. We give places and people and objects power that we aren’t willing to give to ourselves. Maybe that’s why I stared. Because maybe, knowing who I am in a relationship with him reminded me of who I could be outside of my relationship with him. When he’s in LA and I’m NYC, I’m still the same girl who challenges him daily. 

When I look to my left at the building where I saw my mom and grandma die, I’m now the girl who can ease herself into memories instead of getting assaulted by them. 

I sit up because it’s getting chillier and I’ll be making my way back soon, when I think, places hold power over you until eventually they don’t. I can walk by the diner where a guy broke it off with me because finding a true heart to call home stripped that winter night of its gravity. 

Walking on the side of the street with the hospital entrance isn’t something I can do yet, but maybe one day, when I’m holding his hand, I will. Maybe even if I have a panic attack while doing it, it’ll be okay because I’ll be going through with him and he’ll remind me who I am, when I can’t remind myself. 

For right now though, I’m sitting and staring at a hospital building that turned me into an adult before my time. I didn't start my walk with the intention of walking away changed, but there I sat. I'd unexpectedly shed some weight while staring at clouds. 

Maybe it’s because of who I’ve let myself grow into while he held my hand. 

Or maybe it’s also because 8 stories doesn’t seem that tall when you have your chin up.