Heart Collector

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PHOTO: Joel Filipe, Unsplash

“That means so much to me Carol. I’m honored to know it’s made a difference.” -Donny McCaslin

Thank you so much for these wonderful pics throughout the season. I have saved a few that we will enjoy for generations!” -Merrill Leonard

“You’re an inspiration—keep us posted on your journey.” -Lululemon

I was submitting my writing the other night, feeling like shit, feeling overwhelmed when a thought entered my head out of nowhere: I am a collector of moments that feel innately, incredibly, quietly, deeply human, a heart collector if you will.

I’m forever captured by these moments that stir my own heart.

Today, I walked around my wooded neighborhood for an hour, racing the thunder storm and lightning show. With five minutes to spare, I made it back home, the back of my right foot opening in a Nike blister, head awash in music meant to love me back.

Along the way, the beauty of nature struck me, like scenes from a movie or me scrolling through online contact sheets after a lengthy photo shoot: The scent of spring flowers, lilacs, clean, fresh Magnolia with dew forming around the edges, a man and his dog fetching mail in a shower of cherry blossoms, the way the pink blossoms hung low over the blackstrap tarp of the road, one branch flung away from the others, reaching out toward a sky heavy with slate that I could almost smell, and suddenly, out of nowhere, that faint familiar smell of Bobby the summer of ’77.

These moments stir inside me, waiting to get out. Maybe in a story of my own, buried in the sidestepping riddles of a forgotten poem, or a word-for-word transcript masquerading as an important interview.

When I am with people, I sit back, wait, and watch for those moments, taking pictures of the images and the feelings they evoke deep inside my well-covered heart. I painstakingly take each picture out in my mind for later, in the safety of my windowless room, aching with loneliness and self-loathing.

Your words add to my collection. The praise serves as a balm for my battered soul. It’s ridiculous how much I hunger for recognition, validation, just for one person in a crowd to see me standing there…

Every so often, when I feel brave, I am able to reach out to someone with my collection, sharing pieces of these moments, so the person will not be sad, or borrow the strength of my conviction for the five minutes it takes to go on after a terrible blow.

I am that singer in a B movie who is known for copying others but afraid to show herself. I am the patient recovering from major surgery, clinging to the idle gardening conversation of masked strangers waiting for their lunch break.

They forget my name as soon as I say it. But, I forget theirs. I don’t forget their smiles, the funny little laugh of recognition, a pat on the shoulder in between my patches of psoriasis, the things that matter.

I am a heart collector, waiting to be reborn.

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