Expanding My Horizons: The Sunsets of My Childhood

By , Wyckoff, NJ

When I was a child, I was rather fond of sunsets. During the summer months, I enjoyed staring at the sky as the sun went down, growing distant in the evening as the horizon gleamed brilliant colors. I, like my siblings, also had a fascination with clouds and the shapes they formed and colors they reflected from the sun. They were, in a sense, a part of my childhood; my fondest memories were associated with them. I similarly had an eerie obsession with light when I was much younger. As my parents would attest, I insisted on playing with flashlights, nightlights, and glow-in-the-dark objects. As I aged, however, I lost this obsession and saw it evolve into an admiration for sunsets. As the years went by, I spent less time looking at the sky, focusing on things down on Earth, except for some key moments. Looking back at my early years, some of the best days of my life happened to be days when the sun would set as if it were the last day on Earth. On other days, the sunset seemed to be a sign of comfort and hope in times of distress.

     

One of these moments was when it was to be my last full day in my childhood home. It was the place where I achieved my greatest milestones; it was where I learned how to walk, ride a bike, and play sports. The day before our family was moving out, after eating dinner with my family, I left the table and sat on the porch outside. The rest of my family was indoors, watching television or cleaning up after the meal. My brothers and sisters were just quiet, distressed over the impending move in silence. I too was quiet, but stayed outside looking at the sky. That day, I witnessed perhaps the most brilliant sunset I had ever seen.
     

The sun in the distance emanated comforting warmth that simply reassured me, and the sky was azure blue, enveloping a radiant portion of the sky which was gleaming a crimson red on either side of the sun, with a vibrant orange and dandelion yellow shell around it. There was a calm breeze that blew through the plum trees and cherry blossoms in our backyard that seemed to invigorate me with energy. The evergreens at the edge of the yard seemed taller than ever before, gently scraping the sky as they swayed in the steady wind. The world had ceased its sound, save for the gentle wind, and I no longer felt lonely and despairing. I stayed outside for a long time, until the sky turned a deep sea blue and the bright colors of the sun began to shrink and escape from my vision of the horizon. It seemed to me as if I were out there for an eternity. In reality, I stayed there until the stars came out, and the Earth made noise again, as the crickets chirped and the cicadas buzzed their monotonous melody. It was, without a doubt, the sunset with the most glorious grandeur I had ever seen. Even though I was a little kid, I captured its image, now in my memory with such vividness that I remember it to this day.
     

This moment in my life marked a new milestone, and it was the last one I would have in my childhood home. It marked my realization that, sometimes, we have to move on, and we have to accept the reality of the situations we are presented with. Prior to that moment, my life seemed perfect. That evening, my parents didn’t tell me to come inside and my siblings didn’t ask me to play kickball or catch. They let me be, because they understood that I, just like them, was going to lose friends and a home that was the center of our childhood, and I needed time to take it all in. It, in essence, marked the first bold step in my maturity, but it wouldn’t be my last. In the years that followed, living in our temporary new home, I learned a great deal about the reality of the grim things that happen in life, and it was there that I took further steps in my growth. It appeared that whenever something great or terrible happened in my life, there would be a magnificent sunset that would accompany it.

     

The last great sunset I witnessed was the evening before I was to move again, this time under different circumstances, with a new perspective. The house was nearly empty, and it was a few days before Christmas. During that cold winter day, as I was looking out an upstairs window for the last time, I watched another sunset, this time in a new setting. The cornfields in the distance were a dull gray, occupied only by dead stalks, and a cold, discomforting wind stung my brow as it blew through the screen window. I kept the window open anyway. For whatever reason, the sun, if only for a moment, shined a brief luminous glare, offering minimal warmth, but warmth nonetheless. The gray clouds quickly returned to fill the gaping blue hole in the sky where I had briefly gazed at a spontaneous sunset. It was much briefer than the sunsets I had seen before, but I accepted it as a sunset regardless. What it lacked in longevity, it made up for in brightness. The whole sky, in my mind, seemed to shine for a few seconds before the dark winter clouds covered it up. In between these two sunsets, I witnessed many others. Whenever I was going somewhere or travelling, there appeared to be a sunset unique to that time and place. Looking back, I find it interesting how many people endeared the twilight sun. Even though it isn’t a sunrise, many take it as a sign of a new beginning. Even today, while I am much older than I was at the first great sunset I saw, I appreciate them for what they are.
     

Some people paint “their” sunsets. Others take pictures of them. I, however, prefer living in the moment that it occurs, not taking time to take a picture, but taking time to appreciate it before the sun completes its journey. Everyone, when I think about it, recalls some type of magnificent sunset that they remember for a long time. Reflecting on the past, I feel as if those sunsets were a foundational part of my early years. They seemed to symbolize an inevitable end to my childhood, and, at the same time, it was a beacon of hope for the new beginning that would follow. I hope now that there will be more sunsets in the times to come, and I hope that my future may be a bright one.






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