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Unfamiliar Place This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

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Have you ever felt like a stranger in your own life? When something that was once so familiar has suddenly been twisted until it is a strange and foreign place.

One day you are a small child, with unmarked skin, so naïve and full of wonderment at the shiny new world before you. The perfect size to be picked up and carried in warm secure arms. Home is a safe place, no surprises, strong caring hands are always there to catch and support your fragile body. You leave a handprint in a block of cool cement, damp and gritty to your eager touch so big then, but so tiny now; it’s only a quarter of the size of your hand today. How the sharp pain of a cut or a bruise was always somehow a surprise no matter how crazily you were running around. And no matter what your big eyes would always leak salty tears that would drip into a wailing mouth after leaving clean streaks down dirty dust-covered cheeks, but it was always easily remedied with a hug. And the memory of how black the bathwater would run to clean that dirty face, washing away all the muck after a long day of play. And how many rinses it would take until your matted and tangled hair was fresh and clean again. A smell or sight, fresh cut grass in summer, or lights on tree inside a snowed-in house, always brings you back to those times past, but they are gone now.

You are no longer quite so small, but not yet grown. You’ve learned so many lessons, like not to touch the hot stove; the shiny-white square-shaped scar on your inside arm will always remind you. You know not to pet strange dogs, or to run with sharp objects. You’ve learned not to play with fire, there’s a small round scar from that one too. You have learned more important things too, not to lie or to steal, some of us don’t always follow these rules, but we will all learn eventually. All those lessons learned, but none of them seem very useful or helpful anymore.

Suddenly you reach an age where you are ambushed by an onslaught of decisions. How are you supposed to choose anything with a sense of resolve, when your choice could very well affect the rest of your life? You have more responsibility and independence then you have ever had before, but there are also countless more ways to have it taken away. Childhood friends have transformed into something that isn’t always easily recognizable. The warm and secure hands of your youth are still there, but their once invulnerable grip on you is slowly loosening. Every day you face decisions that splinter into so many different paths, it dizzies you to contemplate the multitudinous options. Your bruises and scrapes are so much more painful then those of your childhood, but they are no longer so easily visible with a casual glance. They can no longer be cured quite so simply either. Every day of the rest of your life will be unfamiliar to you, everything is something new. Lessons of your childhood and memories will help you become who you will be, but for now what you will become is still unknown. It is a tantalizing and sometimes frightening thought, but one you must accept in order to be anything at all.





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