Approximately three months ago, I moved from a dusty blue mountain town to one of the biggest cities in the country. Boston has been my dream for years – a roiling red wonderland I grew in my mind, a secret paradise I visited when I was bored in class or nauseous in southern church pews. I packed my life in a backpack and hopped a plane. Now I study creative writing at an arts school downtown.
My room is a closet, but my window fills up a whole wall. I have a glorious view of a rusty fire escape and an equally enormous window in the building across from us. My roommate and I spy on the family that lives across from us, and joke about posting notes on our window for them.
There is a lot to love about Boston – the clean, sweeping streets, the cobbled buildings, the cheesy duck-boats and gorgeous green space – but perhaps the best thing about it is the people. I have met some of my favorite people in the world here, and it’s only been three months. My roommate is a wild vision of laughter and she gives the tightest hugs. A kid down the hall makes me laugh until my stomach hurts. My teachers are scholars and novelists and experts in their fields, none of them without a sense of humor.
I seem to have traded Boston’s name for my own. I call this red city my home, but I haven’t been able to locate myself yet amidst this new context. The Kelsey I knew was an introvert in a quiet town. She spent hours alone in her room, went on walks in the early morning, ached for taller buildings. I was grounded in stillness. But from the moment I arrived here, I have not stopped moving. Right out of the gate I snagged a job as a theatre usher, landed a spot with the Emerson Review, got involved with a non-profit called Writers Without Margins – I spend my weekends at museums and taking train rides and doing homework – I am loud and brave and ruthlessly determined, and all of this is amazing, but I have not had a moment to sit down and introduce this new me to myself.
So much has changed in these last months, even beyond moving to a new part of the country. I broke up with my long-term boyfriend, and though we are still close friends there is no denying it sparked a shift in my own self-perception. I am without commitments and without curfew. Who am I without those boundaries?
Perhaps I am not even a different person. Maybe it’s just that so much of my context has changed that I don’t look the same. I think I was always loud and brave and ruthlessly determined, but now I have the surroundings that allow me to prove it. Perhaps there is no inherent “me.” Or, if there is an inherent “me,” maybe she is biting her tongue, or biding her time. Or maybe I just need to slow down long enough for her to gather her breath and speak.
My name is Kelsey Day Marlett. When I write, I’m Kelsey Day. When I’m called on in class, I’m Kelsey. When my roommate wants my attention, I’m Kelso. When my ex texts me, I’m Kels. When I’m with me, I am a blurred nameless someone, searching for a tomorrow to chase after. I am not a revolutionary. I am not magic. I am a young woman who is desperate to believe she can matter. I cry at music that plays in cafes. I am violently restless. I crave love but hide from attention. I am back and forth and in between, and always searching for a new word. I want to win at this, whatever this is. I dream of miles folded over and a cat back home who still sleeps in my bed.
I am not undone, but becoming. Boston is barreling me down new roads and twisting me through mirror fun houses. I am faced with a thousand could-be me’s, and somehow I want to be all of them.
yours in haste,
kelsey day is a young award winning poet who grew up in the blue mountains of north carolina. she has received recognition for a collection of short stories, as well as two novels she published at the ages of 11 and 13. today she is studying creative writing in boston, massachusetts.