Chloe Ford '20
Clinton High School, Clinton, New York

When I was ten, my older brother ran away from home. Before dawn on a June morning he gathered his guitar and overflowing backpack, prepared to set out on an adventure of his own. Before he left, he crept into my bedroom and quietly woke me up.

"Hey, Chloe," he whispered. "I just wanted to say good-bye."

My mind was still floating in some faraway dreamland, so I quickly dismissed his words and fell back to sleep.

I can remember my parents' worried voices that morning when they first discovered he had left the house. My brother was struggling at school because he was the farthest thing from a cookie-cutter kid. We knew he was probably running away from all of the boxes he could not fit into, but we had no idea where he could have gone. While my parents hurried from place to place, calling every friend and taxi company they could think of, I did not follow them around, sobbing uncontrollably. Instead, I meandered up to my bedroom, closed the door, found a notebook, and began to write.

I escaped into the world of a young girl whose sibling ran away. I detailed her leap out of bed when she heard her parents' low voices downstairs, how she sat on the large couch by the window and stared longingly down an empty driveway, hoping her brother would come strolling up—guitar on his back, smile on his face. I wrote about the day as if it were all a fictional story, separating myself from my problems, but facing them at the same time. All of my pent-up emotions, the ones I could not bring to my parents, poured out of my pen. When the young girl in the story came to terms with her situation, I came to terms with mine, as well.

This is how it has always been. Apart from academic situations, my feelings do not naturally flow from my mouth. I find that some door in the back of my mind shuts and locks when I'm faced with telling people exactly how I feel. It is a struggle to put into spoken word all that goes on in my mind.

And so, I write. I have kept countless journals over the years, all coated in brightly colored ink and deep feeling. I have covered pages in story after story, some about lost puppies, some about lost dreams. I have written a poem every morning for the past few months, and have begun to understand the world around me and my ever-changing self through these words.

Over the summer I attended a writing camp, and I found getting to know a person through his writing is like slipping through a tough, outer skin, and immediately understanding the complex emotions underneath—what evokes excitement, what tragic things he has experienced, or what scares him about the passage of time. Writing is magical in that sense; it exposes all that lies in the deepest crevices of our beings.

Paper and pen have gotten me through every part of my life: embarrassing school experiences, homesickness at summer camps, my grandparents' deaths, and my brother's trip away from home (from which he eventually returned), in search of a place apart from society's strict rules.

Writing is my place apart from these strict rules. It is its own quaint farmhouse on a stretching hill in the country. There, I can sit quietly and sink into myself; I can search for meaning without interruption; I can find beauty even in the parts of life that are slightly broken.