They built beautiful, exuberant and colorful things just to burn them down.

They labored, they sweat, they spent the better hours of a day crafting fine details and creating whole worlds; just to engulf it all in flames.


And I have the nerve to feel like I wasted my time because we’re no longer friends. I have the audacity to cry over spilled milk.

This is the exact representation of the human experience. We make masterpieces of our lives just to watch it go up in flames and we mourn. Unlike the Valencian people and their burning Fallas, we don’t celebrate. We don’t release the burden of having to receive the gift of starting anew. Why?

In the Summer of 2007, my Tennessee Governor’s School of the Arts dance instructor said, “Take a mental picture.” Mental Pictures: The act of observing a moment, actively identifying its importance, and deciding to keep it with you forever. Mental pictures. My life has been riddled with them ever since. All these pictures look like ghosts in a frame clogging my mind.

7 months, half a year, and there is already so much to get over, to let go, to learn and to grow.

We built beautiful things, much like the Fallas, just to burn them down. I can’t miss any of it or be sorry. The sun keeps rising and every day is a chance to build more beautiful, yet mortal things. We shatter friendships like glass menagerie. We break ourselves. We scar our hands gathering the pieces.

We are ruins, blown glass effected by the heat from the fire with which we burned our lives down.

The immense heat coming off of the Fallas during the Cremas was so powerful that I and many others had to shield our faces and skin with cloth. This is how we are. This is how it goes. So how could we not know that a little heat and discomfort is just a part of the process?

I want to walk home through El Carmen with you every dawn. I want to get caught in the rain on the rooftop with you every night. I want to walk home from Radio City with you every week. You are special. You are incredible. You are kind. And I want to remember you in that moment forever. That’s the gold. That’s the mental picture.

I can hardly bear the flames that erupt into the Fallas of us at the strike of midnight. But this is where we are. This is how it goes. We are not the first cinders to fall, and we will not be the last. So I threw our mental pictures on the flame because much like the people of Valencia, I am ready to celebrate what’s to come. The beautiful, unexpected, great unknown of the future.

We deserve the chance to burn down and try again for something bigger and better next time around.

Words by Keturah Brown