When I was very young, I would occasionally lose my temper and decide to run away from home. I would grab a paper bag from the kitchen, fill it with clothes, cookies, and cereal to keep me comfortable, and write an angry note to my parents discussing the reasons for my latest escape. I would march out of the house, often begin crying on the way through the yard down to the gate, and then give up before I’d even made it to the sidewalk. The closest I ever got to actually leaving (coincidentally the incident I remember most clearly, although I haven’t the foggiest idea why I was running away from home) was putting my hand on the knob of the gate, standing there for a few moments, and then turning around and marching back up to our house, still in a foul mood.
I can’t remember why I wanted to run away, nor even what I wrote to my parents in explanation, but those notes were the beginning of my way of telling people (even if it’s just myself) things I don’t want to say out loud. Whether it was telling my dad something embarrassing that I needed help with when I was seven, or writing notes to a close friend on my computer in a file she’ll never read, communication through writing has almost always been easier for me than speaking aloud. In writing, there is no stutter. I can look over what I’ve written, see what I want to change, and change it, whereas when I speak out loud I can’t take back things I’ve said that sound ridiculous or stupid. If I’m nervous about something and I don’t think I’d be able to explain it correctly if I tried, I can write it down and awkwardly hand it to the person I’m talking to, so as to create less confusion and more finality.
Writing notes, by hand, or typing them, will always be important in my life, so I can explain the oddity that is me and so I can find the bravery to open, even if just on the page.
Lena Hartsough, class of 2019