The People and Places

We come know the world through its landscapes and the people who inhabit it. And these become our landmarks, our roadmaps. As we get older, we understand home is more than a building with four walls and a roof, but an atmosphere enlivened by the people who know us best. In this week’s Unbound entry, tenth-grader Colleen explores the convergence of people and places, and how both, together, form a compass that points us where we belong.

The Things I Hear Her Say

My mother taught me that when someone dies their spirit lives on. It’s in the whispering wind, in the stubborn rocks, in the winking blue sundown lake and the promising new day’s dawn. Those who have died stay with you. They watch you, hovering far above; they guide you, pulling your feet from far below.

People say I have no family now, that my mother is gone and my father never was, but I know they are wrong. I see my mother in the whispering wind and the winking blue water, and I feel her in my heart. I hear her when I am in a new place. She sighs and says, “You know what this is, Harmony? This is the story time. My favorite time in the world. We can just lean back and relax and read this place’s story because every place has one. It is good and bad, beautiful and terrifying, all at once, and it is trying so hard to share its story with us. All we have to do is listen.”

I hear my mother when she says this, and I know I never, never want to stop moving. When you stop and stay in one place, you are only a part of its story. History forgets you. Your struggles and your joys blend and merge with those of your neighbors in time and space. You are a single line in the tapestry, a pattern if you’re lucky, but when you keep moving, you get to step back and see the tapestry, terrifying and beautiful, and you can truly understand it instead of becoming a piece in its broken puzzle.

I tell the social workers I don’t want a new family or a new home. I have my mother, and I have the world. Where the wind blows, where the water runs, that is where I go, for that’s where my home is, where my family is. My heart yearns to go and find them.

Colleen, tenth grade, the Griffin School


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