would you stay?

Ava Kavalali
I drift off. Somewhere safe. I begin to wonder, would you stay? When this haunting question approaches me, I begin to remember. Everything. The images forced into my brain sear me blue. I soon realize how some of my memories make me uncomfortable, so I resort back to the comfortable. My comfort zone kills me but still gives me a creative escape. To me the comfortable lives within my sister’s room, specifically her photo wall. While I only appear in about 15 of the 2,000 photos, they still bring me comfort. I used to get upset or annoyed that I was in so few photos when I've known my sister for 5,642 days. Longer than anyone else in those photos. I have since gotten over my juvenile problems.
Some might wonder how I could feel at home from a wall when I don't even know the majority of the people in the photos. The problem is that I like not knowing the story behind the photo, why or where it was taken. I use these pictures as a way for me to build up plot lines and character development like my sister's life is a movie. While I hear about my sister's life, it is biased to the extent she wants to tell me. I use myself as the narrator of her life filling in the plot holes asking myself, “what happened to her” or “who is he because he's really cute." She started this wall of memories once we moved to Nashville. I liked to think it was a way for her to relive her memories of our old town once called “home,” but her wall turned into so much more than memories. It turned into the story of her life, from photos of me and her in horrendous red and green striped onesies to photos of her graduating high school. Her memories spontaneously scattered: split second loves, ex-best friends, postcards from foreign friends and collages of the inevitably of life.
I have always been judgmental of my life. Wishing my life was as interesting as a telenovela with plot twists that make my stomach turn. I found that in my sister's life, with her crazy stories; when I hear those stories, I always respond in the back of my mind with “I will never do that." My Friday night relies on me going over to my best friend's house and watching some show with terrible acting that makes your stomach hurt from laughter. The type of giggle only a child knows, while Sophie’s Friday night started on Thursday and lasted like a marathon waiting to see if she will survive till Monday morning. After my lazy Friday nights, I anticipate the arrival of Sophie waiting to watch the new episode that will premiere as soon as she returns home. I love hearing her stories and living through her experiences. I fear I will never be as interesting as her. I crave the dramatic life of a teenage girl. I want to have memories and stories like her. Sometimes comparison gets the best of me when I look back at her old photos on the wall. I compare the photos from her freshman year to my current freshman year. When I look at her photos, I wonder if I should be as entertaining as she was: always surrounded by a group of friends, all eyes always on her not me. Should I go out more? I should leave my comfort zone more and be more like her.
I catch myself wasting time staring at posters of constellations, photos of parties and drawings of dreams. Her personality opened like leaked documents that were pasted onto her wall. Her interests are clearly defined, unlike the borders of my imagination. Her life story is told through photos, while mine is told through little stanzas on a blank page. I take each word of advice she tells me to memory and listen till every last period ends a sentence. While her high school experience comes to a season finale, I hope she won't leave me with her memories and designate me to clandestine meetings. Life awaits to consume her with stories. I can't hold her back from the destiny that awaits her, but I'll still be waiting at the top of the stairs in her room staring at her wall. I'll wait for her return, until I get a recap of the months that have slipped away from us.
Ava Kavalali is currently a sophomore living in Nashville, Tennessee. She is sixteen years old and has never been previously published. The inspiration behind this essay was the anxiety she had for her sister moving away to college. In this essay, Ava confronts her fears of her sister forgetting her as she moves through life.

"BarCamp Vancouver Polaroid Wall 'o love - Roland in Vancouver (184)" by roland is marked with CC0 1.0.

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A magazine for teen writers—by teen writers. Under the Madness brings together student editors from across New Hampshire under the mentorship of the state poet laureate to focus on the experiences of teens from around the world. Whether you live in Berlin, NH, or Berlin, Germany—whether you wake up every day in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North or South America—we’re interested in reading you!