Maya Djurisic

it takes fifteen years to sell a house

in the back of your closet you find a first-place ribbon from a summer camp you went to for most of your childhood. you don’t remember why you won it. ten years ago, this would have been important, this would have been an achievement. but you’ve since forgotten, and the ribbon is just that—a ribbon. you put it into the box labeled ‘trash’ and move on, even as a loose memory tugs at the back of your mind.

at the bottom of your desk sits a photo of you and an elementary school teacher whose name you forgot, but whose smile makes the hollow spot behind your ribs ache. you think you liked her, but you can’t be sure. the photo slips into the recycling bin after a brief moment of deliberation, and your fingers twitch when it falls. you tell yourself that you’ll look her up later, maybe in an old yearbook. you won’t, but it was a nice thought.

there are some volleyball pads collecting dust in an old shoebox in your closet, reminders from the one year you tried to play. was it five years ago, or six? your body seems to remember the motions nonetheless; you slip them on, only to pull them off in the next breath. you hesitate, your hand hovering between the donate box and your suitcase. maybe? no. they land in the ‘donate’ box and you hurriedly root through the rest of the box you found them in, tucking the questions and memories under the lid with shaking hands.

wedged between two books on your bookshelf is a notebook, small enough to go unnoticed between the hardcovers but large enough to make you curious as soon as you pull it out. it’s filled from cover to cover of chicken scratch handwriting, yours from long ago. stories, from when you first wanted to write, riddled with poor grammar and loose ends, but filled with heart and hope and a joy newly discovered. you can’t even read most of it, but the ache in your chest returns tenfold as you sit on the floor of the room you’re trying to pack, looking over the words you wrote when you were nine.

these are the things that built you, the experiences and hobbies and old memories that shaped you into who you are today. because that’s the thing about moving from a childhood home—you pull yourself apart into experiences and hopes and dreams, each one pulling away from your core and falling to the ground, back with the objects they came from. you stand in the middle of it all, raw and vulnerable as you learn, piece by piece, how to see your own soul.

Maya Djurisic is an eighteen-year-old college freshman at Purdue University who has been writing recreationally for eight years. She lives in LaGrange, Illinois with her parents, younger sister, and dog Karmel.