Leaving My Childhood Behind This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

October 20, 2013
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As I walked onto the cracked, weather-beaten driveway, I took a dreadful look at the little old house that I grew up in. The exterior was a faded white with old moss that had crawled its way up it and died there leaving its greenish-brown markings of old life. I slowly walked up to the unkempt porch, scattered with dead, crinkled leaves that had fallen from the gigantic oak tree that hung over the shingled roof.

I sat myself down on the ancient, wooden rocking chair that my dad used to sit in as he read. Every morning, since we were always the first two to be awake, we would sit there in that rocking chair, him filling up the chair, and me resting on his knee holding a Dr. Suess book. He would have me read to him as I tried to sound out the words that I was just coming to know, as only a young reader. “K-A-T. cat?” I would look at back at his face for reassurance. Once he nodded his head in approval, I would continue reading and sounding out simple words that transformed into a story. I remember my dad was always warm as I leaned my little back against his large belly, he was like a big teddy bear that I could always depend on for safety and comfort.

I slowly rocked the chair back and forth, listening to the dry creek it created. I turned my head around and peaked into the windows filled with cobwebs and hundreds of dead bugs. Glancing past the filth, I viewed my empty living room. The interior had an vintage, homey cottage look to it. Both the walls and the floor were wooden. It was obvious that the inside of my house was not as worn as the outside, because it looked exactly the way I remembered it, only smaller and empty.

I took in a deep breath and stepped back away from the window. I hopped of my porch and stepped through the overgrown grass that had been yearning for a fresh cut for too long, and made my way to the side of my house where my play set was. I stared at my wooden play set with the dirty green slide. It had weeds and vines covering the lower parts of it. I pictured a little blonde girl, around the age of 7, climbing the tall brown ladder up to the platform, covered by a green, tent-shaped tarp. Once she made it up, she crouched to make sure that her head couldn’t touch the tarp, even though the tarp was clearly too far above her to even brush a hair on her head if she were standing straight up. She made her way across the platform to the slide. When she reached the slide, a big smile stretched across her face and her eyes glowed with excitement. She sat herself down and slid down the skinny slide, joyfully laughing and screaming the whole way down. She flew out the mouth of the slide and landed on her knees. She stood up with that huge grin still glued to her face, while brushing the woodchips and dust off her pant legs, and ran back around to the ladder for another round of pure, endless fun. I smiled as I watched me as a child so happy and innocent, sliding down a slide for pleasure. A tear slid down my smiling face. I knew I could never experience that simple happiness ever again.

Looking at everything, now that I am much larger myself, my big, bright white house was just an aging, falling apart cottage that seemed as if it could crash down if I just simply blew onto it. It’s fragileness and delicacy reminded me of myself. When I was young, strong, happy, and nothing could knock me down, my house right by my side like a majestic castle. Now my house and I have been beaten, worn out, and lonely together because of the world around us. But we are both still here, standing with the hope of change. I turned around and walked away from my house, she belongs to someone new now that I hoped could bring her the change that she hoped for.

As I reached the border between the concrete and asphalt, I paused and looked past the street at the field where all we, neighborhood children, used to play soccer. The grass stood tall, green, and healthy, as if the last summer I had to my house had never halted. But as I looked up at the trees, I was amazed by the reds, oranges, and yellows that covered up the branches. It’s hard to imagine that a sight so breath taking, is the visual image of death. It was then that it hit me like a ton of bricks. Certain things die, so that new things can be born into this strange world, that we humans have named earth. Leaving my house gives me an opportunity to explore the rest of the world beyond this little town. Unlike my house, I can get up and move forward, and instead of hoping for a change, I can go make one.

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