Coming of Age: Finding Treasures in the Past

ELIJAH_4314I remember sitting on the floor instead of the couch in the living room because for some reason as a child, hardwood felt so much more comfortable. Power Rangers was of course on the television screen reflecting off my colossal sized silver spectacles. In one hand I held the corresponding power ranger action figure and in the other his arch enemy as I mimicked with my toys what was shown on the screen. My age had to have been about eight years old. A time when life was much simpler and you could get away with so much more. Those were the better days in my life, which I wish I could snatch back and put away in my pocket now.

The times most memorable to me in my childhood has to be the ones I spent with my father. My childhood not only brought simplicity to my life, but also brought my family closer together in a sense. I could recollect days of laughter from my father as the entire family sat at the table discussing a topic for hours, while the chandelier light shined off his big bald head. My father isn’t the meanest man in the world, but he isn’t exactly known for his cheerful attitude. But that strictness and rare sense of humor is what molded me into what I am today. Because I knew my father would yell at me if I didn’t do well in school, I worked even harder. I stayed well behaved in class to avoid his wrath when I got home, but also to possibly be rewarded with his wide smile that showed his nicotine stained teeth from years of smoking, if a teacher told him how I positively stood out in class.

I didn’t walk home by myself until the beginning of the 6th grade, regardless of the fact that I went to school across the street from my house since elementary school. A sense of protection was put over me since a young age, and that being just one of the examples of it. Living in East New York, Brooklyn in a community called Starrett City; my parents must’ve been convinced I would somehow get into some type of trouble alone. To this day I’m still recommended to go out with one of my brothers even if it’s just to the store. Every time I think about it, I’m reminded of when I was in the 4th grade and would feel left out from my friends because my father would pick up my little brother and me, while they walked home by themselves. It’s like my parents almost knew how the world was regardless of the generation difference and decided to take no chances with their children when it came to it.

Me and my brother being picked up from school every day allowed a door to open for my embarrassment in front of my friends, but also to bring us closer together as a family. The daily ritual of my father, little brother, and I led to bonding time between us. We were picked up from school and then would get our daily snack, which consisted of Chinese food or my dad making his famous homemade French Fries. We all would sit at the table and talk our days while we watched an afternoon television program, which was probably “Reba” or “According to Jim”. But when this was done around 4 o’clock, it was time to buckle down and begin our homework.

There were plenty of smiles and laughter, but sad times also. The times when I reminisce about them, a gloomy cloud seems to form over my day for that short time period. Times when enough tears were shed by the entire family a swimming pool could be filled and someone could just dive in. Times that could never be forgotten like when my parents would argue and my young mind saw it as the end of the world. One of my biggest fears was to see them separate, especially since I was the only one of all my friends who lived with both their parents or even knew both their parents. My parents would argue over us, my siblings and I, and how we were disciplined which they failed to realize only hurt us even more. Seeing my parents exchanging curse words and foul expressions between each other was only like another punishment for me.

Now almost six years have passed and I’m constantly reminded of what I’m missing out on when I look at my younger niece. I wonder to myself if she realizes that she’s at the most important period of her life as a nine year old girl. She seems to carry herself regularly by smiling and playing with dolls. But fails to realize that in only a couple of years she will be a teenager and be burdened with expectations to live up to.

When a teenager she’ll see, like me, how depressing life can really be at times, especially from the people around you. Being a teenager isn’t like what you see on television, where there are constant parties and going out with the cutest girl. Instead it’s the crossroad between becoming an adult and leaving your childhood. Many trials and tribulations are faced, hearts are broken, tears are shed, and friends are lost. The reality of my life and an average teenager’s life is something no child would want to look forward to.

My childhood would have to be the highlight of my life regardless of the gloomy days because it preserves all sense of innocence in life. As a child nothing is expected from you except to behave; not like present day where you not only need to behave but live a certain way and take care of yourself and others. The simplicity of childhood is what should be cherished. Those days that your father picks up from school is what I think of the most, but as you grow up you must become more independent. So I must come home alone from school, just like how in life as I grow up I must walk alone.

BY ELIJAH SALISBURY

EDITOR’S NOTE: Elijah Salisbury is the author of this essay, which was submitted with his successful application for a Spring Creek Towers College Award Program 2014 scholarship. He was awarded a scholarship of $2000 annually, which will be available while he earns his undergraduate degree at SUNY Albany. Salisbury’s career plan is to enter the field of Industrial or Clinical Psychology, and perhaps becoming a Psychiatrist. He is a graduate of Brooklyn College Academy.