I left the cafe with a warm feeling of satisfaction after catching up with a friend. It was one I had visited a few times when I was still in school but this was still only my fourth time or so. It was the cafe to go to. I mean it had exposed brick.
I wasn’t able to park my car in the front because the few spaces were occupied. So I started to head towards the back. It was ten o’clock or so but you couldn’t tell by the flow of cars passing by.
I turned the corner of the neighboring store and started towards my car. It wasn’t until I was a couple of feet away that something felt off. The window on the passenger side was open. Immediately I began to sift through my memory to figure out what had happened.
There was no way I had left my window open. I clearly remember the thought I had after I closed it. And then it dawned on me, wait, maybe I did leave it open.
I started to hope that it was me that had left the window open.
I know it’s the city but this is the nice area of town. I’m sure nothing happened. Look at all these cars driving by and the nice restaurants surrounding this place.
So then I started to circle my car to see if there was anything suspicious when I noticed the handle on the driver’s side was scratched up. Now the fear started to come over me.
But then I had this small fragment of hope because I had at least remembered not to leave any of my stuff visible. And so I walked to the back of my car, fingers crossed, and popped open my trunk. And with a thud, my heart fell. My bag with my laptop was gone.
But it wasn’t losing the new laptop that stung my heart. It was the journal that would mean nothing to him but meant everything to me that had been stolen.
It was the beginnings of a memoir I had long ago decided to write. It contained my deepest thoughts. It was the substance of my resolutions and the visibility of my meditations. In it, I had poured my heart, my soul, and my faith. It was the sole survivor of the greatest experience of my life, a testimony of the joy that I felt, the love I received, and the simple fun I for the first time enjoyed. Through it, I relived the past and hoped for the future. And in a time when I had yet moved forward, a time when my heart still gripped the content of that journal, it was taken from me.
But I had no time to linger in these feelings as I had a procedure to follow. The cops came and notes were taken. I stayed hopeful the whole time, but the ride back home was silent…
When my mom asked what happened, I waved it away saying it was no big deal, that I was positive I would get my stuff back. The laptop could be re-bought, and I’m sure the journal will somehow get back to me. I was making those irrational claims someone makes when they are in shock.
I went up to wash up and decided to take a seat on the couch next to my bed. And the instant I sat, a wave of sorrow came bursting out of me. There were so many things I had come to attach to that journal that I felt that the memories that were already slipping away were being torn from me. It felt as if the gravel had declared execution on this glorious past, forcing an early death to my fading past. It felt like the promises I made disappeared, the words I confessed nullified, and the reality I lived an illusion.
I won’t say that I didn’t believe these thoughts for some time after because I did. It was hard reconciling what seemed like the universe telling me to forget.
But what I know now is that my memories, your hopes, our dreams, and our incredible pasts can’t be stolen from us. Whether it’s the theft of something precious or the death of someone in whom your thoughts were stored, no thing or person can replace the items of hope, ambition, and longing that were entrusted to our hearts.
What you felt, what you experienced, what you were made to believe, what you were convinced you would accomplish won’t change because the symbol of those things disappears. It might seem a little difficult, it will absolutely be painful, but there’s no undoing the engraving on our hearts.
Remember how he believed in you and encouraged you to go for it even when everyone else said it would be impossible?
Remember how strongly you felt when you wrote that letter to yourself and the burning you felt in your gut?
Remember the way you looked at her, telling yourself you would never give up?
Remember the excitement you felt just thinking about what your future would look like?
Remember the way you gave yourself up, how you scared even yourself at the transformation that took place?
Remember the way you wept tears of joy staring into the skies, knowing you found your purpose and identity?
I remember the confessions I made. I remember the resolve I established. I remember the faces who looked up to me and the faces who cared for me. I remember the mouths that spoke life into me and the hearts that dared to love me. I remember the way I danced foolishly with a smile as wide as the pacific on my face and truly lived life abundantly. I remember the potential they saw in me and the expectations they inspired me to reach. I remember everything that was good because it is the beautiful story that has led to this present.
And even though there are still times when I miss those days and long for that familiar smile, I’ll remind myself, that those aren’t memories and experiences that will grow old but what will become the launching pad for new memories and opportunities.