When I was sixteen, I had a sort of personal renaissance: a respite from dark, pressuring thoughts and feelings and a sudden acknowledgement of myself as a person--an interesting person.
I had begun attending a large public school then after homeschooling and attending a small private school. The public school was certainly not an intimate place, and that freed me to develop and be. I worked through the A's in the library's fiction section. I read Alcott's Rose in Bloom during theater class (while half absorbing talk of Greek tragedies) and Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio during honors English (my teacher didn't seem to mind). I wrote furiously in sturdy, hardcover Flavia journals with titles such as Believe, Dream, and Thoughts in my creative writing class. The "writing days" were precious. I speculated about the often-absent, red-haired girl who sat next to me and scrawled swirls and e. e. cummings fragments in a green spiral notebook. I acquired library passes for my lunch period and scribbled while I read Pencil Dancing or an Emily Bronte biography.
The item that most symbolizes this period for me is a flimsy, thin cotton bag with slate blue floral print and wildly contrasting metallic gold fringe. I carried this everywhere. Inside, I kept my current journal and book; usually a SARK or Natalie Goldberg book; and an assortment of Gelly Rolls, markers, and Prisma Color pencils. Glitter fell out of that bag and out of my journal frequently. I put it there, sprinkled fine periwinkle shimmer or perfect-square black and silver galaxy sparkle, so that it would spill onto my desk or lap or shiver out into the air when I needed it--a reminder.
I try to maintain that practice of cultivating glitter. Sometimes, literally or figuratively, I flip pages or explore drawers and discover sparkle bits that my eleven-years-ago self nestled there for me. One reminder is that worn Funky People brand bag that I keep in a pink canvas bin with my winter scarves and my introductory ballet gear from my last semester as an undergrad. If I tried to put a book in that bag now, it might bust. But I keep it. I'm sure sparkles sleep in the seams.