Something to listen to while you read:
Classes were difficult this quarter. Probably the most difficult of my life. I found myself writing an average of 20 pages per week split between an internship, work, and the end of my two and a half year relationship.
About a month after my relationship ended, I was consumed by finals- writing paper after paper, without even a second to process what had been going on. I was working on my graphic design final early one morning (probably around 2:30 am) and was at a complete standstill. I had been completing papers about the theories of Henri Marcuses’s democratic Unfreedom and International Policy within a few hours, but once it came time to work on a project that required my personal reflection, I was completely stuck.
For the entirety of the semester, my art projects had been focused around the feeling of nostalgia from moments not personally experienced. Specifically, the feeling someone gets when looking at a painting of two people lost in each other's eyes or an old photograph of a concert from the 70’s. You may not have physically been there, but you can feel what the subjects in the photo were feeling, and it produces a sense of nostalgia for that moment in you too.
I have filled a notebook every year since my freshman year of high school. So, I thought I’d flip through a few to find some inspiration for my final project. Some pages are filled with memories of the beach. Some with school or heart ache, & others just have a big plane ticket slapped on with the slide of a glue stick and “woohoo!” written sloppily in the corner of the page. But when I opened my journal from my senior year of high school, I found a letter I wrote to 22 year old me while sitting in a hostel in Berlin about a week after graduation. Just a snippet, but it said:
“To college senior me,
I hope you find some peace of mind because you really haven’t been able to. I hope you majored in Global Studies and lived in Italy for some period of time in school. I hope you feel like yourself again. I hope you experienced love- outside of traveling, Roma, family, friends, and music. I mean real, romantic love. I hope you figured things out with Chadd & decided to speak to him again because even though you hate to admit it, he’s so important to you. You’re gonna love that boy no matter what he does. Are mommy and papa still together? The thought of how realistic you’ll be at 22 scares me. You’ve really been questioning your purpose here and I hope on some level, you’re beginning to understand.
All my love,
18 year old Sof.”
6 months ago, I’d give anything to be where I am right now. Surrounded by friends and living by the beach. Making my own decisions. Living full time in one city, rather than splitting my time between two. Having a safe space to come home to. But 4 years ago? I was just hoping I’d still be alive. I closed my book and thought to myself. My family may not talk much anymore but we’re definitely at peace. I'm visiting all of my high school friends in LA next week and staying at Chadds, who has become one of my dearest friends through all of the madness we put each other through. And I experienced the realest love beyond anything 18 year old me could fathom. I really did get everything I ever wanted- all of it.
I suppose that's why I just don’t see a reason in being sad. Nothing devastating happened to where we won't be in each other's lives. We didn’t break each other's hearts or hurt each other to no return. I think I’m not sad because I don’t feel like I lost. What I experienced is so beyond real love, I can't help but focus on how lucky I was to have had it in the first place. I talk to people in their late 20’s or 30’s or 60’s who still haven’t experienced that. I'm sitting here 4 years later, with a letter from my 18 year old self in my hand, not being able to imagine what life would look like without having ever experienced all of the love I had within the last 4 years.
I created a series of collages from each journal from my high school years and collected photographs from my travels emphasizing slow life, intimacy, and nostalgia. I combined them all together with an exhibition poster titled “Everything I Ever Wanted”.