I've just turned seventeen today. I'm putting everything from my youth into a time capsule. It will help me remember the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Thomas, my current boyfriend, is leaving for college. He will be going to Henrenson, in Louisville, and I'm going to stay here in California. My heart aches already. We'd both vowed that our love would last forever, but, alas, it had not.
I put his photo in the capsule so that I can remember him for many years to come. Then I put my half-heart necklace in there. Jennifer and I had each worn one ever since we were in sixth grade together. I was feeling like this was the end of a long chapter in my life. I was going to have to be a grown up now. I wasn't going to college like all of my friends were. My family couldn't afford it.
Instead, I was going to stay home and take care of my mother who had cancer. I hoped she would recover, every day, and wanted to be there for her. I would cook, clean, and help her in any way she needed me to. My stomach churned just thinking about the possibility that she might not be here any longer next year. My heart broke into a million pieces in my chest, I sighed, and I looked down at the ground, thinking about what else I could put into the time capsule. This capsule was really the only thing in my life I felt like I could control at this moment. There wasn't anything else that made sense. My dad was coping, barely, because of my mom's condition, but they'd both told me I needed to finish high school instead of dropping out. I'd offered to. My mother’s health was more important to me than my education. Still, though, I had wondered how it would be to never see my friends again. I didn't want to be separated forever, and Thomas wanted to be an engineer, so I wasn't about to stop him from following his dreams. I just wish he didn't have to do it so far away.
A part of me knew though, nonetheless, that he and I would grow apart, even if he ended up going to college in California, so I just had to accept that. I'd thought about settling down and marrying the man for many years in a row, but it hadn't ever occurred to me that he didn't see me in the same way, that I wasn’t as much of a priority in his life as he was in mine. I would have dropped almost anything just to be with him, but it was selfish to ask him to do the same for me. I knew it was, but I just wanted to kiss his lips once more, touch his skin, feel his heartbeat against mine as we lay underneath the stars.
I'm wondering if this is Heaven or if it's Hell. Maybe neither one exists: both could simply be constructs we created in our minds to avoid the inevitable: pain, loss, heartache. I felt tears beginning to form in my eyes, but I rubbed them away, telling myself to stay strong.
I wanted a girlfriend to help me get through this. Jennifer and I had been close since kindergarten, but she was going to fashion school in New York, and I was stuck here in California. I wouldn't have it any other way though, I suppose. Tending to my mother was my first priority and I wanted to nurse her into health by the end of the year, but that didn't stop the pain of loneliness from enveloping me on this cloudy May afternoon.
I grasp the locket around my neck. It is a picture of my mother. She had told me that she would always be with me in spirit, no matter what, on my first day of school, during my first heartbreak, and when I would move away from home. She'd told me to always carry it with me. I considered putting it in the time capsule but thought better of it.
My mother had always said that it had special powers, and she was right in a way. I was wearing the locket the day Thomas asked me out and we both fell in love as we were eating sandwiches underneath the stars. I’d aced my chemistry test the first day I’d worn it, which I was convinced was some kind of miracle. My mother was always with me in spirit, even when she wasn’t here in person, making sure everything went smoothly. Jennifer and I went to a movie together for the first time ever when I was wearing the locket, and we’ve been the best of friends ever since. My mind went back to all of the good times we had spent together, rollicking in the meadows, ice skating, swimming. She’d always made lunch for me and my sister, Marie, every single school day: home-cooked meals of baked beans, potatoes, and green beans, mushroom soups, and even quiche.
A tear starts making its way out of my eyes, but I rub it away. I want to stay with my mother, but I also don’t want to lose all of my friends. I can’t help it. I don’t know what I am going to do when Thomas and Jennifer move away. I feel as though I am losing a part of myself.
Finally, I sigh, remembering that my mother is ill, and not even wanting to think about the possibility that she will never get better. She will. She has to.
She wants me to keep it with me at all times, and so I will.
I look around and I notice a primrose: my mother's favorite flower. I put it into the capsule and then I bury it in the ground, thinking that this flower is all I need to reminisce about some of the best and worst days of my life. Maybe, someday, I will come back here and see if it jots my recollections. Hopefully, my mom will still be alive to do it with me.