A letter from Writing Retreat student Sita.
I have learned more in this trip than I have in my entire life, if that’s even possible. Perhaps it’s just my perception of knowledge that has changed. I learned to do things that I didn’t even think I would be interested in, like dancing and Catan (which if you don’t know is a board game almost as addicting as crack…. Heh heh did I say crack? Psh I don’t know how addicting crack is, what are you talking about) My mom is always saying that I should do extra curricular activities and suggesting all sorts of things that never appeal to me in the slightest but now because of the freedom I have been given for these four weeks my life seems clearer than ever. I know what I want to do. I want to take blues dancing classes when I get home and in a larger picture I want to live.
I realized that my priorities haven’t been in order. That I’ve been worrying too much about the future and not living as much as I could be in the present. Having only a month to spend with people you love and cherish taught me to savoir every moment and experience it to fullest. This month taught me that when someone asks you if you want to go on an adventure you say yes and then have the time of your life rather than sitting inside and watching a TV show. While that meant only getting an average of 4 or 5 hours of sleep per night, and being a lifeless zombie even with caffeine its been worth it.
It taught me that you always have a place to go. That home is a feeling rather than a location. That when you open your heart to someone they become your family and that if you need or want a home they with gladly share theirs. It taught me that bonds can be made in a night and then become unbreakable in a week. We will always have a support group or a safety net a phone call or text away. I will always have someone to call in a time of crisis or someone to save me.
I was always a bit scared of having freedom. I was convinced that I would eat nothing but sugar and do nothing but mess around on the computer, living in the dark between my bed and a blanket alone save for a couple bags of snack food and a cup of tea. But with my month of freedom I have done incredible things I never would have otherwise. I have walked three miles for a cup of coffee or a movie, died my hair purple, sang my way loudly down main street, gone without sleep for almost 24 hours, walked through a graveyard at night, watched the sun rise and set over the sea, danced outside of pubs and clubs, walked in a hurricane, and stripped inside a CVS after I was sprayed with so much perfume my head was getting fuzzy. Sure I’ve eaten sugar, curled up in bed with my computer, and watched a fair amount of movies, but so little of my time has been consumed by aimlessness that I feel more productive than I ever have.
I’ve realized that confinement is much more dangerous than freedom. Much like a dull knife is more dangerous than a sharp one- a dull life is more dangerous than a significant one. Happiness is the deciding factor as to whether you live a good or bad life. I’ve learned skills here that will help me lead a good one. I learned that with a couple dollars in your pocket and a notebook tucked into your bag you can do anything, and that the dollars and notebook aren’t even necessary. Nothing is impossible until you tell yourself that it is. Adventures can be made out of a short walk to a seven eleven. A coffee shop can become another world when it’s filled with caffeine driven unschoolers. That a pen and paper can be the best tool you have; that they will save you from boredom, a fictional problem, and even yourself. They can be a tool, a weapon, and a therapist. I learned that breaking down to a computer in number two font is both liberating and enlightening. That re-reading a stream of consciousness typed in a flurry of feeling, shows you what you are really thinking.
Time is a funny thing and it seems to pass differently here than anywhere else I’ve been. It feels like I’ve only been here a week and already its time to leave. It feels like I’ve known you all for years and we’ve only known each other for a month. Time seems to pass quickly and slowly at the same time and that’s been wonderful and terrible. I wish we were staying longer.
Being here has made me a better person. I feel more confident, strong, and loved. I’ve allowed myself to let go and be honest. To trust people I had only known for a night. I know more about myself now. I know what I want. I know what I need. I know that whenever I see one of you calling my lips will part into an unavoidable smile. I know I have places to go, and people to see all over the US and even a few in Canada. Most of all I know I can take care of myself, and that there are people caring and looking out for me.
I have enjoyed being here more than I can express with words. I’ll articulate with hugs, and cuddle puddles, and the tears that are sure to roll down my cheeks when I leave. I don’t want to leave. But I have to. I’ll miss you all. You aren’t just my friends you’re my brothers and sisters. You’re part of my family and I hope I am a part of yours. Hope to see you soon.