One Year

One year ago I remember clearly.

I had my guitar on my shoulder, leaving the warm dorms to trek across the chilly campus to my weekly music lesson, but the air was different than usual.

Everyone was huddled outside, talking as they saw smoke in the distance and hues of red burning in the sky that felt so distant at that moment.

“Are you really going to your lesson right now? There’s a fire,” my friend asked me.

Of course I would go to my lesson. It was my favorite part of Monday nights. Plus, the fire was nowhere near us, nothing would happen, and nothing would change.

Oh, how I was wrong.

Everything changed.

Photo Credit: pbs.org

Yet, so many things stayed the same.

One year later, I’m getting ready to go to my Monday night guitar lesson.

I have a new guitar, but it means so much more now. I appreciate it more now.

I’m still in a dorm room, wondering what I’ll be getting for secret snowflake tomorrow.

But I’m in a new dorm room, with a new roommate, on a new part of campus.

I don’t have the same clothes I had a year ago. The same photos, yearbooks, or blankets.

But, I have the photos I’ve taken since then.

My stuffed animal and All Time Low pillow I saved from the fire.

I still have the memories of the fire.

The ones that haunt me.

The ones that bring me to tears thinking about what I lost, what my friends lost, and what the whole school lost.

But, the memories remind me of how I became a stronger person since.

How my friends became stronger.

How the school became stronger.

How the county’s stronger.

More united.

More appreciated.

I still remember the day I returned from Christmas break and steppedĀ on to campus and moved into the new dorms.

Being welcomed by overwhelming support, welcome back goodie bags, and hugs from my friends.

Seeing my horse for the first time since the fire and knowing he was safe and healthy. That all the other horses were safe.

The fire was so destructive, so horrible, but so many things came out of it that I’m more thankful now for than ever.

It’s been one year and I’m still sensitive to the scent of smoke and fire, to the sound of news about other California fires on the TV.

But, one year later, the mountains are a little greener.

My home is still stronger than ever.

And that’s the most beautiful thing of all.

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The Ghost in my Kitchen

There’s a ghost in my house. I’ve been talking to her.

She doesn’t talk back very often. In fact, I’ve only heard her once. I think she told me her name.

But the thing is, I’m not even sure if she’s real.

If she’s not actually there, that means I’ve been asking lots of questions to absolutely no one for about a week, which is slightly embarrassing. But if she is there, that means I can talk to ghosts, which is kind of badass. Regardless, I’m putting this story on the internet, so I guess you can decide for yourself.

It all started when we were eating dinner. I looked down the hallway and saw a white silhouette so clear that I thought it was my brother. I asked him what he was doing and turned around to find him walking into the kitchen behind me. I looked back in the other direction, but the figure wasn’t there.

“I just saw a ghost,” I said, quite matter-of-factly.

My dad, the self-proclaimed cynic, is surprisingly interested in the “supernatural,” if you will. While he’s never seen an actual ghost-like figure, he’s experienced quite a few unexplainable events.

He proceeded to text my aunt, who is our go-to gal for all things psychic and told her I’d seen an apparition. To put her into perspective, she once made me come to a meditation with her, involving tinctures, crystals, incense – the whole set-up. (Whilst there, I discovered that in my past life I may have died in 9/11, but that’s a story for another day.)

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She responded saying that I needed to ask the ghost what it was doing and why it had made itself known to me. I eyed my father skeptically.

“I would do it, dude, but she [my aunt] says you’re more in-tune with this kind of thing,” my dad said to me, in a manner that reminded me of a little kid trying to convince his mother to buy him a lollipop.

My mom assured me that I didn’t need to attempt to communicate with the ghost if I didn’t feel like it.

But I felt a sense of obligation, like this was my duty. This was a task that had to be done, and only I could be the one to complete it. I was Gilgamesh setting out on his quest, but instead of searching for immortality, I was just trying to talk to a dead person.

So anyway, that’s how I started talking to this ghost in my house. At first, I was a little freaked out, but from what I’ve concluded from our encounters, I think she’s friendly and just here to visit, so I’m not worried.

I think she was telling me her name is Mary. The reason I’m not exactly certain I heard it correctly is because I thought I might have been tricking myself. My dad’s grandmother was named Mary. She was an artist and we have her paintings hanging all over our house.

But, like I said, I’m not sure if any of this was real. I’ll let you know once I figure it out.