January 25, 2008
By Abbie Mendoza, Brea, CA

Okay, relax. Don’t pressure yourself. Take a deep breath and loosen the muscles tightening around your shoulders. Now, write about the first thing that comes to your mind. A door. Alright, simple enough. When we first moved to the home that we live in now, the door was green – a kind of sickly green that reminded me of vomit splashed on the wall. It had rough ridges on its surface. At the base of the door was a gold-colored seal, no doubt intended to keep dust or floodwater from entering the house. A flood. I’ve never witnessed flood here; only on television. But where I came from, it flooded constantly. The water backed out from the clogged sewers, swamping the roads in knee-deep mud. One time, it rained so hard that the banana tree in our backyard toppled over. I was only young then, but I remember. I remember distinctly how frightened I was…how easily I gave into the fear. Whenever I was overtaken by my emotions, I used to express them without hesitation. I had no reason not to. Old pictures captured the essence of a little girl overflowing with joy at what can only be said by the more knowledgeable as imaginary yearnings of the fancy. Fantasies and fairytales of heroes flying in red capes and Cinderellas rescued by their prince charming. The experiences of growth: all so beautiful at first, and with time, all such lies. They didn’t dust their feet politely on the “Welcome” mat, nor did they bring consoling smiles as they entered through my door. Instead, they assaulted, and by degrees the pain became so unbearable that it was all my heart could do to continue beating, to keep hoping. And so the seasons changed. Autumn leaves began to fall from the branches; maple trees started to bleed. Watching the sunlight leave shadows on the blinds of my windows, I too bleed, grieving the loss of my childhood fancies. The closest I come to recovering the carefree, brazen honesty of my youth is through my writing, but even then, it doesn’t seem to be enough. We now have a new door in our house – white, pure, yet so cold. But when I close my eyes, I can still remember that old green door where my mom used to hang a small, red good luck charm. Not surprisingly, though, the door is no longer open in my memories – a reminder of my daily struggle to let the tears fall fluidly, gracefully, proudly. Till then, I continue write, waiting for that moment when I’m no longer afraid to open my heart.

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