Take A Leap and Try to Fly

June 30, 2016

I’ve heard about the kids who are forced to move. I’ve read their pleas for help online, and I’ve heard their imaginary screams in my head. I’ve felt their annoyance at being uprooted from their place in the world to be replanted somewhere unknown. I didn’t really understand their pain, nor did I want to bother to try. I always believed myself above these kind of things, believed I would never have to come and go against my will. Petty as I was, I had always thought to myself, ‘Oh. My God. Thank goodness I won’t ever have to do that.’ I was happy even as I felt pity for these characters running through my heart. And then...
“We’re really moving. Oh God. After a year of preparation and reality only sinks in now. I can’t believe myself. This is the last day I’ll ever see this place as belonging to me. Last time I’ll ever sleep in this bed. Last time I’ll ever pace these floors like a crazy person. Last time I’ll ever see the growth chart in the kitchen where my parents marked my growth every 6 months. Last time I’ll ever see this backyard with the high fence and the concrete playing ground where I fell and scarred my knee once upon a time. This is the last time I’ll feel the tears stream down my face in this house. Reality stings.”
This house holds all sorts of memories for me. If I close my eyes, a small child comes bounding into the room. A girl with black pigtails, brown eyes and a bright smile. I see her grab the hula-hoop from behind the big old grand piano stationed in the living room and whirl around with it, grinning big. 
Then the image changes, and I see a slightly older girl, maybe about 8, with the same-colored hair, eyes and alluring smile. She’s sitting in the study on a red velvet-seated chair. A young black-haired, dark-eyed boy with the same energetic smile sits next to her and they both stare at the computer screen with child-like fascination. The moving pictures are too blurry for the 14-year old me in my bedroom to see, but they see it clearly. They giggle like sparrows and punch each other in mock anger.
The image in my mind’s eye changes yet again, and I see now the girl of ten and the boy of eight in a tussle on the ground. She’s got the upper hand, but she’s also older, and supposedly wiser. I tsk in discontent but keep watching. Beads of perspiration form on their necks and the tips of their noses and the way their limbs are moving, it’s like watching a deadly game of Twister. Neither side gives in voluntarily, and both faces are screwed up and as wrinkled as week old prunes in concentration. Suddenly, the boy reaches out and grabs the girl’s hair and yanks. The girl’s eyes widen and something inside her seems to snap as she retaliates with the same move. The boy lets out a high-pitched yell and immediately, an older woman with permed hair comes running to the room, shouting over the Chihuahua’s screeching. All the yelling-even though it’s in my imagination-hurts my brain and the scene changes.
Now I see the girl, a month away from being fourteen, sitting on the living room floor with the cheerful black-haired boy, the shouting older woman (she seems calmer now) and a balding older guy with glasses and a golden wristwatch that reflects light at every movement. Next to them looms a 5.5 foot tall fake evergreen pine, with artificial needles and a trunk made of plastic. The floor was covered in bright wrapping paper in different hues of purple, red and blue. The girl wore a fuzzy red and white hat over her black waves; the boy had on green socks with red slippers; the older lady had on a golden bracelet, and the older man wore a necklace made of large red and green beads. He was grimacing and kept pulling at the necklace uncomfortably but the girl slapped his hands away and laughed. The atmosphere was so light and joyful I could the feeling even through my mind. I smiled through my sadness.
Life would go on. I could keep going. I would plow on through life even in moments of desperation, of devastation. This moment was awful and it was extreme and it was dramatic, but I know that I’ll get past it. I will never forget how critical it was to my growing up, and at least the emotions I felt at that moment would stay inside me forever. I got up from my position on my sheet-less bed and took a couple of big deep breaths to slow down my racing pulse. Suitcase in hand, I stepped over the threshold, knowing full well that I had just closed the door on what had been the experience I will never get again: childhood.

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