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The Gallery of Lost Time

By Esther Besson

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Act I

I am five, ready to be seventeen,
waiting for my body to catch up to my dreams. 

At first they were just scenes on the T.V.,
A cousin sharing photos of the fun times full of gleam.
But then they told you these dreams should be your everything.
These moments were the centerpieces for these films, 
now they have become the centerpieces of my young life.


I wake up everyday awaiting the future 
because my future is already laid out in my mind.
Inside, my mind holds dreams of futures so bright:
The joyful epilogue to my childhood,
A life worth racing towards,
To the curb I kick this childhood life.



Act 2


I am five, ready to have the greatest night of my life at seventeen.


The greatest night is one of the few nights: 

I wear a floor length dress, 

The first time I went to the dry cleaners to pick up my suit.

Stress over matching with my date,

Run to find all my friends on the dance floor.

We’re surrounded by starry nights and dim ballroom lights, 

We can’t see a thing, but that's what we like. 


As the bass keeps booming, we all keep moving to the beat… beat…beat…

You can’t beat us to the photo booths where the cameras click infinitely.

Which props will I use, which pose should I hit?

I hold on to the strip for my life, to show

A night to remember, where we are forever young.


I am five, ready to cross the stage with a diploma 

on the greatest day of my life at only seventeen.


On the greatest day, the sun sets quietly 

as I gather with all my friends, both young and old, 

Cheering each other on even as it’s time to go our separate ways.

Celebratory flowers gifted from my parents, I cherish them but I break the bouquet

So everyone can have a piece of a whole as the camera clicks away.


Now the camera captures the gowns flapping away in the breeze,

The grins full of pride shining brightly, 

As the winds of our future blow “good lucks” and “well wishes” 

For the upcoming journey ahead of us.


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Act 3


I am twenty one, wanting to be seventeen.


I am twenty-one watching my life go by, 

Expecting someone cooler to step in– they won’t.

Because I am supposed to be mature, 

Supposed to be someone who had 

the greatest night of their life at seventeen years old.

But the night never happened. I have nothing to show. 


That night was supposed to become a normality,

To welcome the many more parties of my twenties.

I’m stuck feeling forever young, 

But not young enough to like dancing in public.

How do I move from seeing my friends 5 days a week,

To realize we don’t even talk anymore?


I am twenty-one watching my life go by,

Expecting someone wiser to step in– they won't.

Because I was supposed to be different than before.

Supposed to have that greatest day crossing the stage,

And then moving to something more.


What I didn’t know was that the stage ahead of me would be my living room.

With no gown to hold on tight behind a background of golden hour sunshine,

The winds of the future were still and unmoving,

So there I stayed, before I even realized that life keeps going.

With more stages to cross, new problems to solve,

But all on my own. 


My dreams were unfulfilled,

And as I had to race past them,

My mind became trapped in time,

Felt like I was stuck at seventeen for life.


My dreams never became realities,

Now stuck in a portal 

I can only access in my imagination,

Living in the gallery of lost time.


Act 4


I am twenty-one, knowing I can’t go back to seventeen.


But by the time I realized what happened, 

We were already on our way to adulthood. 


On our way to new spaces we never expected to fill,

My confidence is still under construction, 

I thought my dreams would have given me

The tools to handle this. To prepare for this.


Missing old faces we never thought we would leave behind,

Now making new friends feels like I’m in a torture device,

Never had to put myself out there so much in life.


And going to new places we were never ready to enter.

What do I do when I don’t know how to talk to my neighbor next door?

I want to know you. But will you want to know me?


Too used to being alone in my bedroom. 

I was one with myself for so long.

Adulthood waits for us daily on the other side of the door, but

Sometimes, I’m still not ready to go. 


Our album of memories will always have that empty spot,

For the experiences that were meant to be universal, 

eternal, pushed as quintessential in our life, 

Ours is gone, and we can never return to that slice in time. 


Fundamentally different people, I am twenty one 

Constantly crossing into different stages of life. 

Pursuing chances that I never thought I could dance with.  


Sometimes, it feels as if I never left the chaos of my teenage years,

And yet I choose to make that chaos a part of me,

Choose to look forward to aging each year.


Even though it can feel like I never left seventeen,

I know that Seventeen has already left me, I am not the same.

It takes constant reminding to remember that you have grown,

That you do live at a different pace than before.


Readiness will come when I least expect it. 

It’s something I now know cannot be awarded 

with only two moments during your teenage years. 


Friendship is a balancing act that I still have to master,

Confidence is a garden I have to nurture,

Change is just a race to see how I shift faster,

Responsibility is just another pot I watch on the burner.


All lessons my dreams could never teach me,

Because at some point,

Reality steps in as the new teacher of life. 

And takes me away from the gallery of lost time.


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The Gallery of Lost Time | Creative Direction and Written by Esther Besson

As children, we have dreams about how our transition into adulthood will look: enjoying prom, walking in graduation, and moving into college. These moments are the dreams we buy from movies, TV shows, and our families. We cherish and hold them tight throughout our teenage years. But what do you do when those dreams are cut short, and who are you after those dreams have passed you by? 
Through the perspective of the Class of 2020, who did not have a senior prom or graduation before adulthood (due to restrictions under COVID-19), this series will explore these “deleted scenes” and revisit what could have been, but also who we are now without them.

Photographer | Anya Sachdev and Harper Ryckman

Copy Editor | Emily Wu

Choreographer | Hannah Dedji

Model | Patrick Udeh, Esther Besson, and Ashley Facey
Fashion Stylist | Jude Kamoona
Production Assistants | Madison Lloyd

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