An Open Letter to The World Left Behind

Christine Nguyen

Saint Louis, Missouri, United States

I don’t even know where to begin the flurry of emotions I feel trying to find a way to describe a world that seems so far lost. A world I took advantage of unknowingly for eighteen years. A world that I don’t even know if there’s a way back to at this point.

I miss the utter simplicity and spontaneity that accompanied it. The last minute text asking if you wanted to grab dinner that night. The adventures halfway across town with a few too many people crammed into the backseat of a car. The morning walks that you couldn’t complete without running into a familiar face.

I miss the human touch when I needed it most. The forehead kiss after a good date. The embrace when my world felt like it was falling apart. The shoulder to lean on- and probably cry on.

Living in my childhood bedroom has reintroduced me to demons that I forgot existed. It’s a stark reminder that healing isn’t linear and without the fast-paced distractions of my day-to-day life there is no avoiding the need to process industrial-sized storage units of trauma. My mind becomes my enemy, racing with countless memories long forgotten, long avoided, and long repressed.

My heart mourns the many what-ifs that could have transpired. The weddings that I had booked flights for. The nights of spontaneous adventures: trips that never happened, plans that never were finalized, and traditions that we didn’t keep. The semester of classes, lunch in the dining halls, events that were never planned.

I don’t know if there’s a way back to this world that I’ve fantasized about the last nine months. A world full of gatherings without the worry of where someone’s been and where they’re going. A world where I don’t have to make a mental list of everyone I’ve seen. A world that isn’t doused in hand sanitizer and covered in disposable masks. A world that I hope there’s a way back to.

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