Journey to Me - Honorable Mention
By Kayla Pinson
From the Mass Communication Department’s 2016 Photojournalism Exhibit
This closet is a space ship. I am a willing participant in its adventure. In this cozy vessel, where the floor is adorned with a blanket predating my memory, I make my imagination a new house in need of guest to fill the space. I feel safe here, as if re-wombed and waiting to emerge. The only light is excessive for the space, but actively wards off the dark I fear. I’m here to escape the cold of a place that housed me for seven years without revealing itself too be a home. There is only enough space in the vessel to lie down in a ball. Sometimes I come here to hold myself together. Today, I am here to escape. I picked out a new adventure and the pages welcomed me before I could get the book out of the library. But there was too much air in the bedroom to feel like I was alone when reading; so I slid the closet door closed to secure myself from that world’s aliens. Or maybe to lock myself into the safety of my own secrets. Crawling through clothes that were not mine, hoping to find my very own Narnia, I find the pages to be a portal. In between these covers are a new world to be explored with my imagination. I read the destination first, and then read the journey more excited to see how I will get there than where I am actually going. On this journey I find a new world and language. Spatially, not too far from the place where I find dreams, I am more content here. The dreams are already written and explained. I just have to connect the dots between new worlds and reality. Solace sought in both places return different versions with neither of them greater than the other. I find myself in harmony with difference. I find myself at the center of all literature. I find myself in all worlds. With the lamp for an unused desk at my feet, equal energy is reflected at the opposite end of my body. In this space, I do not want to speak or be spoken to. I do not want to be called to dinner. I do not want my mother to call on me for a favor. I do not want to be seen. I just want to be in a place I am not. I want to be surrounded by the people I meet when my eyes shift from left to right over each new line. I am here to mingle and practice conversations with characters that needed me to be complete. They were in the world I had locked myself out of. In my space, people would come to me to tell me of their world with words I was learning to unlearn. As my eyes examined the new world, I understand that their words have different meanings. My education does not encourage me to create a meaning or be of meaning, it just teaches me to limit myself to that world’s words. Each person is meaningful in the world I locked myself into. Here they are all perfect and flawed for no other reason than their development. I have come to know and love them all on this journey. I am not alone. A collection of friendly stuffed animals keep me company on my trips in search of the same escape. I speak the words out loud to them as an invitation. They comfort me when I am confused. They give me faces to name and act out the body language of this new world. They have come to love these characters as themselves since they become the actors I practice with. As I grow, this closet is a vessel through which I am spoken to in a language I am still learning, yet something I can strangely understand. I learn that this spaceship is life’s classroom and I am unlearning. I am thinking differently in the same skin. I should have outgrown the need to be swaddled in something other than my skin but smaller than the world; I should have been involved in the world as more than just a character; I should have begun to live years ago. But I am still a child. I still hide in this space ship and hold on to letting go of what I knew to be standard because the language suddenly is not one dimensional, but alive and guiding me. I am on the journey for the words I unlearned and concepts that surfaced because of this process. I notice the universe as a hybrid of material and spiritual matter shifting to balance itself out. I am in the middle of it all, shifting through the limited space of this ship. Knowing it is about the journey and not the destination, I inevitably find myself as all characters do when at the center of an already written world. Their flaws are agents of their development and their opposites are equals in whatever world they existed in. The book is finished and I am still undone. Unsure if it is safe to leave the space in my skin, or will the air of the room expose me to an old world I only thought I was ready. One that thrives on the consummation of characters that did not fit into its hegemonic archetype. In this space ship, I learn that every underlined sentence, every character, and every new set of pages are lessons before dying. The world is not one we get to create, but one we get to experience as we do the words on the pages in the language of other worlds. We all need a space where we get to learn and unlearn others, ourselves, and our worlds. We all need a journey where we are not attached to the destination but the process of developing and loving the flaws responsible for this development. It in such spaces we are waiting to be found. Here I am hiding from those who came looking for a girl that was lost in another world. They called out her name and I will return when I am ready. I am enjoying the space I created while it last for I know opening the door will cause it to expire. This 9 by 5 space is bliss and these sliding doors are a fort only I have the password to; until my father needs a suit, then my secret space becomes a closet where everything is chosen except my world. Sometimes I wonder if my family knows my world is there. Sometimes I wonder if they know I am there. I fear that they will ask me to return mid journey and I will have to disrespectfully refuse. I will return when I am ready to be in another world that is not of my own creation. But right now, I am still here in this space ship unlearning myself.