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On Turning Fourteen

Do you remember a time years ago,
When things were simple,
When they were easy and cheerful?
When you could go to bed in a gloomy mood,
But wake up to the shining bright light
Knowing everything was going to turn out all right?
Well, I do.

Life used to be imaginative,
Playful,
Fun.
I would take out a set of plastic Barbie dolls
And act out entire scenes.
I’d play Checkers or Connect Four every day,
Even Monopoly, if I had the time.
If a game wasn’t handy, I’d play pretend.
Imagining I was the almighty czar or a princess.

My whole life was simple.
No worries,
No conflicts.
It was peaceful and safe.
I could run merrily across the yard after a Frisbee,
Stare up at the clouds against the Sun’s blinding glare
Imagine animals floating through the stark blue sky,
Or settle down with a steaming hot chocolate on the old tan couch.
Everything I ever needed was handed right to me.
The world was a blissful place,
A blur of ease.
And I hadn’t a care in the world.

Then came my fourteen birthday,
The start of high school,
Or should I say,
The start of change.
Even though the day itself was a joyous celebration,
Afterwards I came face to face with a realization.
I found out what the world was really like.
By my next birthday I was no longer the same.

My life changed.
I was told, forced, to mature.
No longer was it acceptable for me to waltz up to Santa’s lap,
Make my way through the maze of tunnels at McDonald’s
Or turn the channel to PBS Kids.
People were constantly judging me,
As they were judging everyone.
And suddenly I found myself caring,
Caring about their opinions.

I was also forced to be more responsible,
And take situations into my own hands.
The weight of my life was shifted to my shoulders.
I had to deal with everything myself.
I was like I was alone in the world.
I became overwhelmed.
For the first time ever,
I understood stress.

Imagination, toys, and games became things of the past,
Replaced by endless tasks and conflicts.
Every moment of everyday became crucial.
One mistake could cause me to lose a competition,
Or a friend.
The world was I battlefield.
I was so busy fighting that my old life,
Of play and joy
Slipped like sand through my fingers.

By the time I turned fifteen
The horrible truth was clear to me.
The world I had experienced that year,
That was the real world,
The harsh and complex real world.
And one I would have to become accustomed to.
As I look back at my magical childhood years
I wish I had cherished them,
Held onto them while they were there.
Although my life has new events to look forward to now,
Like a car, college, and a career.
The simplistic of feeling of childhood is behind me,
Gone forever, never to be retrieved.
All that is left now is wistful memories.



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