“I jump in my bouncy house. The rainbow castle is now pathetic, due to the multitude of holes in the structures. Yet I continue to bounce”
As a young child, I didn’t have many friends. However, that never bothered me. My life was mostly defined by my home life, when my parents worked most of the time. My younger sister and I were raised by my grandmother, who lived with us until we ended kindergarten.
I never understood why I was so happy. My life wasn’t hard, but it wasn’t necessarily easy. I searched through my memories in hope of finding answers.
When I look back, the clearest memories are at home with my family. My earliest memory, seeing my mother pregnant when I was just a little more than one year old, was the first to come in my mind, as it is one of the most shocking. Then my mind wandered from room to room, remembering different flashes of memories. My mind then hopped to memories of my second house, where I spent most of my life, until I moved out for college.
Morning light bleeds through the milky curtains onto my parent’s mint bedsheets. My mother is laying on her bed, rubbing her belly peacefully. My father is watching her, standing near the window, and beaming at his future baby. They speak softly. I watch my parents through a creak in the door, wondering if it’s the right time to come inside and play.
Sitting on my kitchen floor, I tape the strips of paper into rings, just how my grandmother instructed me to do. It’s early afternoon, and we’re preparing paper kites to fly in the park. The floor is cold, so I grab a piece of uncut paper and sit on top of it, like a solid rug.
“This doesn’t look like a kite. Aren’t we supposed to use string?” I ask my grandmother, annoyed that my kite looked nothing like the ones I saw at the park.
“This is a kite!” she exclaimed.
My sister and I stare down at the dirt in our backyard. We are paralyzed. Bird chirps fill the silence. At our feet, surrounded by twigs and leaves, a neon pink caterpillar is being torn into pieces by a colony of red ants.
My mother shoves a spoonful of cough medicine in my face, urging me to drink it. I cover my mouth, resisting her threats with tears in my eyes. My grandmother is sitting on the sofa nearby, observing the dispute. The medicine isn’t even in my mouth yet and I can already taste the bitter cherry liquid.
My mother continues to hold out the spoon at me. She is losing her patience. Then she lets out a yelp. The arm that isn’t holding the spoon flies to hold her other arm and she stumbles back in pain.
“I’m hungry,” my sister whines to me.
My stomach grumbles and I agree. I hop off our sofa and stumble into the playroom, regaining composure when my feet hit the royal blue carpet. My father is at the desktop computer, reading an article on Yahoo News.
“Dad, can you make us breakfast?” I ask while reaching my hand up to tap his arm.
“Later,” he replies, still staring at the glowing screen.
Crying comes from my bedroom. My mother rushes to the room and I follow behind her. The light in the room is off but it is illuminated by the hallway light. My sister has tears streaming down her face. A band-aid by her side. Her left pinky is bulbous and purple, like a blueberry.
I’m on my parent’s bed alone early on Thanksgiving morning. The blinds are drawn closed but light still trickles in. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade is playing on the television. I lie on my belly, hyperfocused on the Parade. The only noise that can be heard is the static noise from the TV and the creaking of the bed as I readjust my position.
My sister and I sit in the dining room of our second house. We watch the gas fireplace, awed that such a thing exists. The recycled paper to protect the floor crinkles underneath us while our jokes and giggles echo throughout the empty house. The smell of wood varnish infiltrates our noses, but to us, the smell is of new beginnings.
I jump in my bouncy house. The rainbow castle is now pathetic, due to the multitude of holes in the structures. Yet I continue to bounce, with my feet feeling the asphalt through the vinyl every time I fall down. The smoke from the charcoal grill mixes with the smell of the fresh grass. The sun is slowly setting on this summer night.
I’m at my grandmother’s house, which used to be my whole family’s house. My sister and I sit on the sofa, bored. The doorbell rings. We panick. My grandmother’s blonde and tall masseuse opens the door of my grandmother’s dark massage room to peek outside and see who rang the doorbell. She sashays to the door, leaving behind a trail of the aroma of essential oils and opens the door.
Pillows are knocked from my sister’s bed onto her limited floor space. We spread our favorite purple, cotton blanket onto the bed and my sister lies down on the edge of it. I ask her if she’s ready and she giggles excitedly. She holds onto the edge of the blanket while I push her body towards the other end, rolling her up in the blanket, like a burrito.
I rush into my house, high from adrenaline caused by the urgency to pee after a long day at school. Out of the corner of my eye, I see a fat creature in a cage. I pause. Is that a cat?
“It’s your new bunny!” my mother announces.
“Oh! You have to say goodbye to grandma,” my mother calls out from the kitchen.
The lights are off in the dining room, but the room still glows from the kitchen’s warm light and dawn breaking outside. My mother scurries into the room and I stare at her in confusion. She lights a candle in front of my grandmother’s portrait and orders me to blow it out while hurrying back into the kitchen to continue loading my bedding and clothes outside to put the car.
I glance at my grandmother’s blurry portrait, which sits on top of the gas fireplace, then blow out the candle, watching the smoke disappear into the darkness.
Even though they are the most distant, my memories at my old house are the most clear. The colors in those memories are the most vivid. Those were the years where I was living life with no concept of the future to bother me. All I had were my past memories.
What my memories have in common is that they all have a profound emotion attached to them. Some of my memories are happy while some are terrifying. The negative memories created scars that have permanently left a mark on me. However, the positive memories have been collected together as a bank. They give a sense of encouragement and optimism when times are tough. My happier memories prevented me from feeling utter loneliness as a child, because I understood that going home meant the rejection of that feeling.