I remember the first time I saw her.

I remember loving the feeling of being dirty. Feet sinking into the mud, dirt painted across my face like a warrior. I was invincible...until bathtime.

I remember sitting by the phone to win concert tickets. I had learned far too late in life that good music existed, and I was very quickly addicted. I stared, unblinking, at the screen of the live–streamed radio station and whispered quietly to myself the phone number that I had memorized. I won.

I remember irises with shards of icy blue inside.

I remember writing my very first poem: “I wounder.” I “woundered” about it for days. I strolled through the woods behind my house, pensively looking off into the distance. I thought that nothing compared, that I had created a masterpiece. I proudly strolled up to my mom, expecting some sort of award, but only heard her give a small laugh. She broke it to me gently that nearly every word had been spelled wrong. She told me to keep trying.

I remember working as a babysitter for a psychiatrist. Just before she left for work one day, I heard her complain about mothers who send their eight year olds to therapy—because what eight year old would benefit from that?

I remember being eight years old and sitting in a chair much too big for me, trying to tell a psychiatrist the reason why I hadn’t slept in weeks.

I remember the smell of the northern English countryside. The damp March air and cool grey clouds found a home in my lungs. Those few weeks were the first time in my entire life that I felt like I belonged somewhere.

I remember being called “Darling.”

I remember eating pizza on the boardwalk and feeling the thick salty air on my skin. Everything was different there; the sky turned a deep pink at night and the breeze was never too cold. I didn’t have to think, I just was.

I remember sitting in that empty closet crying. I got up and kicked the blank wall and yelled at the vacant room. I don’t think I’ve ever cried that hard in my entire life. My whole body was shaking and sobs were tearing their way out of my throat. I spun around and around mimicking the record that I had playing at full volume and I hugged myself until I couldn’t breathe.

I remember riding horses in the summertime and picking peaches right off of the trees. There is absolutely nothing like grabbing a piece of fresh fruit off a tree and having the juice drip down your chin after you take a bite. The horses enjoyed them as well.

I remember freckled, star–speckled skin wrapped around small and steady hands that loved to play guitar strings.

I remember them telling me not to do that.

I remember doing it anyway.

I remember laying in my bed and thinking of the least problematic way that I could die. Suicide wasn’t an option. I wouldn’t be able to do it myself. It would have to be some work of fate; maybe I would walk really slowly in the street when the walk sign wasn’t on. No—terminal illness was my best shot.

I remember trying to cast spells while everyone slept. I had to keep in mind that it was “wingardium levi–O–sa” not “levio–SA.”

I remember flying for the first time.

I remember what it felt like to not worry about something for five whole minutes.

I remember her telling me how it felt to have knuckles hit your jaw.

I remember getting my first pair of Doc Martens. Man those things were (and still are) the coolest thing to touch this planet. I got them on Christmas morning. They were the only thing I asked for. I took those brown and floral patterned bad–boys out of the box, feeling beautifully angsty. I slipped them on and immediately realized that they were a size too big. I lied to my mom about them not fitting, just so I wouldn’t have to wait three more weeks to get a new pair. I learned to cope with walking.

I remember climbing that tree in my old back yard.

I remember the way his eyes would change and a small smile would form on his face right before he touched mine. He would do that sometimes out of nowhere, just place his hand on my cheek and smile and sigh and then go back to what he was doing. I loved that. I loved him.

I remember the smell of incense in my mother’s bathroom. She always used to talk about how her own mother burned them when she was a little girl.

I remember seeing my dad really cry for the first time. He said, “Baby, I love you. Baby, I’m so sorry.”