The wall above my bed is so covered with photographs there is not an inch of the original cream to be seen. I have photos from when I was 3 up until now; 20 years old and still rocking a baby face.
When I go abroad next year, these photos will come with me. I will pack them into that gift bag, which has split dramatically down one side, and they will take up far too much space in my suitcase. I will pin them onto the wall of some tiny bedroom wall on the outskirts of Santiago, and consult this wall when I feel lonely and friendless.
Sometimes, in moments of exasperation and exhaustion, I flop onto my bed and look gloomily at the dozens of smiling faces which grin at me, all of them stuck in an eternally perfect moment.
In the right-hand corner there are photos from that week spent in Barcelona, the time I was reunited with my school friends after a year of being apart. The lingering affection for an old roommate is evident as I encompass her into a too-familiar hug and we eat ice-cream whilst wondering how university made us fat. These progress into my uni friends; nights out and days wasted away in the kitchen eating pretty-much-anything. The people who I grew to love and learnt to express it through drunken words at 3am in the kebab shop. I can visibly track my face’s evolution as it gains too many piercings and I die my hair too-dark; a vain attempt to rid myself of the innocent chubby cheeks and ginger locks. That little girl is there too, staring wide-eyed and crossly between the larger figures of her brother and sister. They probably pinched me and now I am about to cry. They’ve grown up as well; graduation celebrations erupt on one side of the wall and it’s hard to distinguish my skinny ten-year-old brother dressed in a pirate disguise from the tall, confident man who dons a graduation cape and towers above his mother. The gigantic grin which has always taken up half his face gives the game away.
I have carefully created a line of my Favourite People, placed strategically just above my bed so they can be as close to me as possible. My Best Friend is perpetually laughing, reminding me that I take everything too seriously. My sister is suffocating me in an overprotective hug, shielding me – like always – from everything I hate about myself. My parents, younger then, smile at me too. As ever, they look magically content in each other’s company. There are more friends there, and cousins, and me too. Moments that are frozen in a picture, the people we once were stuck in places we once belonged to.
When I take the photos down the Blue tack which I was specifically instructed not to use will leave pale stains to remind the next resident that I existed here. As I leave another home, my lifetime collection of fragments of people and pieces of identity will follow diligently behind.