October 28, 2008

Somewhere, sometime

Do you ever wonder about the kind of permanent mark you're making on the world? I don't mean like with service or goodness or love, but an actual physical change. Like carving your initials on a tree or putting your handprint in cement. You know, damaging crap like that. I looooove doing things like that (although not to the point that I break any laws) and knowing that forever after, there is proof that I WAS HERE.

My first experience with this was when I carved "Krista likes (insert name here)" into a tree at the local playground. I honestly don't even remember who the boy was. I suppose I could go back and look but the point was not to declare my love for someone else but rather to put my name on a tree. And I had only been exposed to the idea that name-carving in trees is reserved for passionate lovers. So I convinced myself I had a passionate love that the tree needed to know about. This is probably a sign of some sort of sick level of vanity but really, I think I just liked sticking sharp instruments into my surroundings.

A year or two later (still in elementary school), I accidentally drew on a whiteboard in a conference room during a meeting I was waiting for my mom to finish, IN PERMANENT MARKER. It was terrible when that eraser did nothing at all. I was scared to death of getting in trouble so I casually inched my way to the other side of the room where I patiently waited for the conversation to ebb and then grabbed my mother and hightailed it to our van. Now that time has passed, I wonder if that smiley face ever came off the whiteboard. Perhaps it's still there. A small but sincere part of me really hopes it is.

I was thinking about this recently because a) crippling curiosity over petty things has plagued me my whole life and b) I was walking down some steps and dropped a Gusher. You know, those geometric fruit snacks with juice in the middle that always squish in your hand and get you all sticky. Anyway, I saw it fall and was going to pick it up but it landed in such a lovely position on the stairs. Hidden from view between a corner and a banister post when looking from the stairs themselves, too high up for anyone to casually see from the bottom floor. This Gusher was in perfect position to be ignored for the rest of its life. And now I will admit something because I think that deep down in everyone, there is the same feeling that overcame me on those stairs. A hidden but insistent need to make our mark on the world. What did I do, then, about the errant Gusher? I left it there.

I knew it was probably wrong but I couldn't help imagining that perhaps no one would find that little piece of me on the stairs for years and years until some young adventurer came along and considered that petrified Gusher a treasure, one that pointed to the history of our civilization and of me. That adventurer would wonder about the original owner and would maybe even keep it as an inspiration, a reminder of the heritage left to the next generation by my peers and me. I imagined dying and getting to heaven and looking down upon the discoverer of the Gusher, watching over him and becoming a guardian angel ready to further my legacy in the world.

I checked a couple days ago. The Gusher is gone. I'm sure a cleaning lady shook her head and swept it into her trash bag while rocking out to her ipod. But I hope that some reminder of me is left after I die, whether it be the tree in the park or the smiley-faced whiteboard. And when I get to heaven, I'm FINALLY going to satisfy that blunt curiosity of mine and ask some REALLY important questions, like is that box full of My Little Ponies still buried in my friend's backyard, and WHO THE CRAP SENT ME THAT ANONYMOUS FLOWER-GRAM IN 11TH GRADE?!?!? The answers will be ground-breaking.


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