I grew up outside. The bottoms of my bare feet the color of midnight. My cheeks, freckled stars splattered across the 12 am dark. My blonde hair glowing, tangled, the crooked sun in a seemingly flat sky. And my hands were honest, holding only dandelions and popsicle sticks. I knew then, how to put down the things I did not need to hold.
There has always been something about trees, something in the blunt honesty that they could not answer my thousand questions. But they stood there. Anyways. Day after day, letting me climb on their branches, letting me tug and carve and ask. Anyways. They will never know it, but they answered more questions than voices ever could.
You see - then, with my sunburn nose and my big question mouth, I did not know that the world wouldn't have answers when I tugged on its pant leg, did not know that not every voice that was yelling had something to say. Didn’t know that when I asked nicely, it would turn its back, or roll its eyes, or remain silent. Back then, with my scraped knees and baseball cap, I asked it all, I asked big and bold and honest and I did not care if no one had an answer, I asked again.
Somewhere along the line, I think, we rewrite the definition of a question. I think we let the definition become, ignorance is bliss. I think we stop asking. And as a result, I think we stop answering. We become comfortable with quiet, with being small. But quiet and small are both very dark rooms with no windows. So now, I am learning to find my way back to the trees that listened, and the answers that I didn't write out of fear.
I’ve been working on editing my definitions. I am trying to reach my hand back 10 years, 16 years, just to dip my fingers into the courage it takes to tell someone who you are.
At 7, it was reflex, “Hi I am Kath, I’m 7. I am bold and clever and I write a lot of poems about the moon, because it is consistent and bright and I want to be that way.” Somewhere between 7 and 23 I learned the art of shrinking. When asked who I am, I become small, uninteresting, complacent. For fear of making someone uncomfortable by the space I take up.
I am trying to reach back, dip my fingers into the courage it takes to tell someone who I am.
I am Kath, I’m 23. I am still bold, still clever, but those take on a different shape these days. I do not write as many poems about the moon. I am trying to be half as consistent and bright as it is. Trying to hold onto more dandelions. Most days, I am clapping off beat just so someone will ask me what music I’m hearing. Humming under my breath just so someone will be honest enough to join. I am trying to be curious without being judgmental, in awe but not oblivious, ignorant without being unaware. I am an eighteen story building inside of a five foot tall body, there are so many floors in here, and I am learning that I do not need to be on all of them in one day. And all of this, put together, uncomplicated, stretched big, it's enough. I may not be sitting in a tree, but I am still finding the answers that are worth holding.