Art, My Photography, Photography

When I was eight years old, I was informed that I would be abandoning everything I had ever known. I know, this is the most dramatic way ever to address the subject of moving, but as a savagely tan and tangly haired 2nd grader who loved the Arizona heat just as much as her imaginary cloud-shaped world “Cat Land,” this news was about as shattering as it got. I remember sitting in my backyard, staring out at the golf course that I spent so many child nights playing flashlight hide N seek and TV tag on. Through my wide innocent eyes I tried to soak it in, carve everything about what I had known into my brain, to remember always. I had to remember always.

I had this tiny little cactus in a miniature pot that sat on my windowsill in my room. I debated and debated, to either take it with me for the big move in case Oklahoma didn’t have any, or to plant it. Even as a eight year old, I was taken by the idea that I could have this little thing, this little plant,  that I could leave behind to grow and live, and wait for my return.

Photograph by Jacque Donaldson

Things We Leave Behind, Jacque Donaldson

And oh, what a joyous reunion it would be, for me to come back years later, decades maybe even, to find it there fully grown and strong. An old friend to say “Hey, it’s okay that you left,things kept happening and though it may have been lonely, you made it. We made it. Everything is okay. ” I decided to plant it in my backyard, very near a fully grown Cactus, you know, in case it got lonely or needed some guidance in growing.

I would be lying to say I haven’t already known the outcome to this story for years now. Each time I visited Phoenix growing up, we would drive through the ol’ neighborhood and without fail I would check the side backyard. Of course it didn’t survive, it was a novelty cactus, the kind you pick up in a gift shop meant to endure it’s entire short and cheap lifespan in a painted plastic pot. But that never stops me from coming back to that old house, to just look, and wonder, and hope and remember.

I bring this up because it’s something that has been on my mind a lot lately. My constant desire to leave an impression, my fear of missing out, and being forgotten; My unwavering faith that somewhere along the line, I could be surprised, and realize that what I’ve done, it has mattered, to someone somehow. I have become accustomed to adapting, to not looking at change in location as a devastating lost but rather as another opportunity to leave something lasting behind. I know that my little cactus has been gone for a long time, that it will never spring up, but that’s okay.

Life happens and sometimes the things we leave…They leave us too.

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