I recently finished re-watching all of the Harry Potter movies. While there are hundreds of things I could talk about in Harry Potter because I love it so much, what really stuck with me this time around was the concept of Horcruxes. In the Harry Potter series, the evil wizard conducts incredibly dark magic to divide his soul into parts and attach them to different objects he hides around the world, called Horcruxes. When your soul lies in different places, you theoretically cannot die until all parts of your soul have been destroyed.
I’ve been thinking about Horcruxes since then, and to me, they don’t seem like such a bad thing. In fact, there is something actually kind of beautiful and poetic about having your soul divided. No matter how downtrodden, hurt, or defeated you feel in any given moment, it can’t completely destroy you because pieces of you are all over.
I’m not so much attached to a lot of physical things, but I think my Horcruxes are places that will always have a part of my heart and soul. They are places I think back to when the world seems dark, and the path ahead seems a little hazy. No matter where I am in my life at any given moment, I’ll always have these places where I was free, in love, and at peace.
If my soul split into some Horcruxes, this is where I would put them:
1- The cul-de-sac (Aka The Circle)
One day I was playing out on the street of the cul-de-sac were I lived when my elderly neighbor came down her driveway to get her mail. Back then, she had somewhat of a reputation of being harsh and cold, and we tried our best to stay off her lawn and leave her alone as much as we possibly could.
“I watch you guys out here, you know,” she said as she grabbed the mail from her box. My bike was stopped at the end of her driveway. I thought I was about to be in trouble. She flipped through her stack of letters and bills, then looked up at me. “You’re a leader.” I didn’t know how else to respond except to nod at her. She gave me one firm nod back before she turned to walk back up her driveway.
I had never really thought of the dynamics of playing outside with my neighbors, but now I understand that I was learning more than just how to pop a wheelie over a curb on my scooter. Playing with the “circle kids” was one of the only times in my life I can remember feeling truly and totally able to be my whacky self, in a freedom that only childhood can bring. There were no secrets, no heartbreaks, no agendas, no packed schedules, and no drama except for times when one of us would find unfair loopholes in four square rules and dictate the King spot. We were happy to do nothing but run, bike, climb, play, laugh, imagine, and dream from sunup to sundown every single day. Those days gave me incredible confidence that I think I carried with me throughout school. I’ll always hold those memories outside on the circle and those friends dear to my heart because I wouldn’t be nearly the person I am today without them.
2- The soccer field at the public middle school
When I look back on my grade school days, what I cherish the most is my time spent on the soccer field. I joined the team as soon as I was able to mostly to be able to wear red ribbons in my hair to games, but by the end of 8th grade, we really were a strong, ragtag group of girls and so incredibly proud to call ourselves Lady Falcons. Some of my best memories are growing up on that practice field by my house, kicking balls against the wall to warm up (and inevitably roofing said balls), running drills and sprints up and down the field, and taking the first big risk I can remember when I raised my hand to try the position inside the goal as a goalie. I have never known such complete freedom as I did when I was running with my heart slamming against my rib cage, my face flushed and sweaty, feeling the full power of what my body could do. It was before we worried about what we looked like and had to schedule in working out because our metabolisms have slowed down and we have been sitting in a work chair all day. It was playing for the love of the game and the love of the girls on my team. I learned how to be intuitive and how to anticipate through the years and years I spent inside the goal. I learned that not everyone plays fair, and fingers break easier than you think. I learned that sometimes you just have to start singing “The Great Escape” when you’re slowing down, and you will have friends around you who will join in as you run down the field and push on towards a victory.
3- Jacobs Field
My love of the Cleveland Indians has transcended every life phase I have ever been in, and that is something I think is truly incredible. From grade school Indians nights where all my classmates were there with their families, to my high school boyfriend telling me he loved me the first time during the fireworks after a win, to watching that same fireworks show together many years later and realizing we no longer loved each other the way we thought we would forever, to being able to go with my brothers as adults and have beers together in the standing room section, I’ve grown up with the Indians. There’s something that feels so genuine and hearty about loving the Indians. Baseball is the best American tradition, and Cleveland is a city filled with passionate fans no matter how the season is going. I’ll always smile when I think of the crack of the bat reverberating through the air, the smell of hot dogs and beer, and how completely blissful it felt to drive down the empty roads with my friends and the music blasting on the way home from the Shaker RTA stop after a game.
4- Yours Truly
One of my earliest and favorite memories of the Greater Cleveland diner, Yours Truly, is gathering there with several of my closest friends after we spent all morning learning how to become Eucharistic Ministers. There was a sense of entitlement around us as we devoured our cheese and bacon covered french fries in our nice non-Catholic-school-uniform clothes; we were old enough drive ourselves to a church in Cleveland to be trained to have real adult roles in Mass. Eucharistic Ministers at my high school were cool and sophisticated, unlike the younger, dumber underclassmen, and now I was about to be part of that special group. It brings the biggest smile to my face, realizing how childish and young we really were back then and how much more to faith there is than feeling important.
I still go back to Yours Truly almost every time I am back in Cleveland. It’s tradition to go there with my cousin and her boyfriend for breakfast, where we gossip about everything we have missed the past few months we have been apart and laugh about anything and everything. I could write a book about how many memories we have in those side booths. The seasons, the years, the layout of the diner, and our lives change, but a comforting constant is that we will always have each other, our usual breakfast orders, and the walk around the same spots in town.
5- Boston Harbor
Boston was completely wonderful and overwhelming the first time I ever went my senior year of high school. I’ll never forget sitting with my mom on a bench along the Boston harbor that first time. It was the first time I ever felt I was right on the precipice of something truly incredible, the next adventure. It was exhilarating and gave me a sense of peace all at the same time.
Despite of—and probably because of— a lot of the ups and downs that have come from living here, I know that when the time comes for me to leave Cambridge, a huge piece of my heart will always be there (along with my initials etched into the sidewalk on my street). Through housefires, smashed cars, duct-taped walls, the car with the way too sensitive car alarm that goes off if a noise is too loud, pantry moths, garbage bin rats, and digging my car out from the snow, I have really had to buckle down and grow up. It’s where I discovered the power of yoga, the stress-relieving benefits of spin classes, the joys of live jazz, and the fickleness of being in your 20’s. I’ll think of the several pairs of underpants that are so often randomly strewn across the sidewalks, the crazy lady who always drags suitcases around, the walks into the city for the afternoon, the cab drives back from the airport, all the trips to the grocery store for elaborate weekend dinners, the park with all the dogs playing together, and the loveliness of walking along the river at dusk as the sun blankets the Boston skyline in pinks and golds. I see parts of myself in all of that.
I have at least a dozen other places that come to mind when I think of places I love and that will always have a piece of me. These are the ones that have truly helped build the foundation of being a confident, strong young woman, and where my soul has gotten a little tougher, a little freer, and a little more joyful. For me, these places are simply magical.