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Atoms are the basic make up of all things in this world. Compounded, they become molecules and form the very make up of life. As the microcosms of life collide with the dendrites of the neurons a message is picked up and sent to the nucleus where the message is sent down through the soma, to the axon, and finally through the axon terminal. This process is repeated millions of times as the action potential is delivered from neuron to neuron finally arriving at the olfactory bulb which is associated with the limbic system which is a part of memory.
But as an African child brought into this fantastic new country of freedom and opportunity, my feeble mind was unaware of these complicated reactions causing these memories and excitement.
All I knew was that I loved to smell things; in fact I had the strongest sense of smell in my entire family. On an ice-cold December day with snowdrops cascading from the sky, I was left home alone. My mother could go to work along with my father to pay the bills, and for immigration for my brother, Frank and sister, Casey, whom were waiting patiently with baited breath in Ghana.
This was a situation I was used to, however, because even though only at the age of six, my parents spent months prepping me. I learned how to cook basic meals, call for help incase of emergencies, and what to do in fire emergencies. I felt like I was ready to earn my parents trust to survive on my own. After my mom departed, I finished my homework as promised, and began to study for the later weeks lessons, as long division became my nemesis.
Suddenly I became sidetracked, as I smelled a hint of lavender. I became seduced by this wondrous aroma but awoke from my trance in my parent's bathroom. Instantaneously, I breeched the cabinet, and found the mother load of all soaps! Pilled in a convenient basket were all kinds of soaps: bar soaps, liquid soaps, hand soaps, and even face soaps. The aromas quickly hypnotized me. It mingled with my already poignant sense of smell driving me to the edge of ecstasy.
Then I thought, "Why not melt these down into one giant soap that will smell amazing then put them into the ice cube trey and freeze them so we have a lot of them for me, mom, dad, and lily?" I would be manipulating molecules by speeding them up in order to change their forms into liquids then slowing them down in the freezer in order to solidify them into a solid once more. This new compound would retain the desired traits.
With no parents present, I did not need to ask for permission. I sprang to my feet with soaps in hand and rushed to the kitchen, grabbed a pot from the cupboard, put some water in it knowing I did not want the bottom to burn, and began dumping in the soaps. Satisfied, I waited for the concoction to settle to a boil. As the mixture began to boil, so did my excitement. I grabbed a wooden ladle from the drawer, and stirred my concoction, a mad scientist tending to his creation.
Suddenly it began to bubble. But I did not panic. While keeping calm, I turned down the heat; nevertheless it would also help to decrease the bubble rate. All of the sudden I heard a very familiar jingling of keys. My heart stopped beating, the imminent realization of punishment paralyzed me. I began to pray hoping it would be my sister Lilly who would probably give me a slap on the wrist and help me clean up but whom emerged from that door was the worst possible person for that situation, my mother!
She called out, “Phil I’m home I got off from work today because we were overstaffed!” As she strolled into the kitchen I could not move my body, my mind was screaming, “Run, run, run, run!” but my body was numb. The smile on my mother’s face quickly disappeared. It was replaced with pure anger. However, there was a slight pause of disbelief almost like the silence before the storm. Then finally it happened, the soap hit the fan.
“Are you insane! Turn off that stove right now and clean this up. You will need all the grace of God to tire me before I kill you with my bare hands, and then it will be your father’s turn and you know much better than I do that he will teach you a lesson you will never forget!” exploded my mother. “I’m going to get changed and when I come back all this better be cleaned up!”
In an attempt to win back some love, I whimpered, “I’m sorry mommy I just wanted to make you a new soap so we wouldn’t need to keep spending money on it so Frank and Casey can come sooner.” But she would have none of that and walked briskly to her room. Upset and disappointed in myself, I turned off the stove and placed the pot into the dishwasher and sat on the couch. When my mom returned she had cooled down a little and suddenly apologized for her brash behavior, “I’m sorry for yelling at you like that Phil. Those soaps were just really expensive.” Luckily I had kept one to smell and brought it out to give to her, but she denied claiming I should keep it to remind myself of this day. Together we walked into the kitchen to make some hot cocoa to calm ourselves down and that’s when we saw the mountain of bubbles erupting from the dishwasher. I had forgotten to rinse the soap from the pot leaving it filled with soap. That day I learned curiosity comes at a price and should be explored within reasonable environments. I also learned to never drop the soap because not only was it a symbol for my dreams and desires to explore, but was also the catalyst for the punishment I received that night.
In spite of my sore buttock I still dreamt that night and still to this day. I still dream of creating new compounds for the future to help people purchase less and gain more out of the already suffocating American economy. My dreams have fluctuated from being a neurosurgeon to pharmacist, to nuclear engineer, and finally to dentistry. One thing that has remained constant is my drive to succeed and to make this world a better place to live in.





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