Cost of Celebration

For the past week I’ve been on a family trip, celebrating an array of things: my brother’s college graduation, adulthood, and stepping into my older sister’s place for the first time. 

Over the entire week we traveled and celebrated. 

Every dinner, every comment, every time the sun warmed up our frozen bodies, we said words of thanks and congratulations. I watched as my family’s faces lit up with joy, made obvious by the smiles that stretched from one cheek to the other. I am sure I went through the same process: the smiling, the lighting up, the stretching until the corners of my face creased.

But something occurred to me as I laid down on the couch of my sister’s apartment, a thought that often threatened me like a burglar breaking in at night. In another timeline I could have had this life. I could have been the one being visited, the one who’s apartment brought awe and wonder, the one who could have made the family proud.

It’s a thought that previously crept into my mind before, a thought covered in ill intent. I always brushed it off by thinking about the way that life happened—how everything seemed to fall out of place at all the wrong times, how I was given a task nobody could realistically accept, how I allowed complacency and comfort guide me to where I am today.

In wake of all these celebrations, I also mourned myself. How my body became a casket that carried all of my dead dreams. I thought about my past self fondly and how if one or two things did not happen, I would have been a few years into a new life in a different country or state.

The cost of a celebration is more than a plane ticket or a cramped hotel room. It’s coming to terms that I am unable to redo the past. That I must work with the hand life has given me. 

The best thing that I can do is continue moving forward. That maybe, somewhere in there, a dream lives on, shining brighter than ever. And that is because I continue to put one foot in front of the other. That I continue. Despite, despite, despite.

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