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Why I Write – Nadia Bitar '22

According to Annie Dillard, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing.” In that case, I spend my life forgetting. The feel of tears slipping down my cheeks in the cramped science bathroom just after a physics quiz, the first three-point turn I ever made out of my house’s U-shaped driveway, the black bodycon dress I wore to my best friend’s sixteenth birthday, the relief at my 92.65 rounding to an A in eighth grade American History, the address of the house where I lived for the first eight years of my life. Gone. Memories that once weighed heavy in my mind dissipate like mist on a hot day, replaced by how to calculate binomial probabilities and the lyrics to “Chinese Satellite” by Phoebe Bridgers. My every hour, wasted away forgetting.

I pass down today’s stories to next year’s self like a grandmother whispering folktales to her descendants. I write like a diver, sucking in enough air to make it to the bottom, lungs burning as I try to get there. The oxygen pours from my lips as I read what I wrote on this day a year ago. I feel some tension go out of my limbs. Right, I think. Of course last year’s August 16th consisted of a sat-home-and-waited-for-quarantine-to-end day. I haven’t forgotten anything I’ll never get back. Soon, the years will fold together like one of those paper fortune tellers you make in elementary school, and in an ideal world I’ll never stop writing my days down.

I expend some more air opening my second journal, the one I never reread. I scribble my fear that my life will remain stagnant, and the hour I spent in the library bathroom crying about a friendship I don’t know how to fix.

My supply gets low by the time I reopen the original turquoise journal and record today’s events there, thanking God I don’t have space to write about how I sobbed in the passenger seat of my mother’s car this morning. I’d love to forget that in favor of the story my sister told me about the boy in her class who’d never heard of a scone, or even a marginal cost curve. I know I don’t want to read about it next May 6th.

I run out of air. I return to the surface with measured caution, never coming up too fast.

I take another breath and try again, because what else can I do? I pull my knees to my chest and burrow under the blankets, typing into my Notes app, my fingers shaking with frantic energy and my words reflected in my pupils. I curate a Spotify playlist full of songs like “Ribs,” “Cartwheel,” and “Never Grow Up,” title it “it’ll all come around” (in reference to Lorde’s “Stoned at the Nail Salon”), and play it when the pain of an eighteenth year threatens to leave me gasping. I find the satin bookmark in my pink journal and pull it out again, uncapping my navy blue BIC pen and forming looping letters on the lined pages. I think about it until someday, maybe, it comes back to me and it doesn’t hurt so much.

Art by Aria Liu '23


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