Memories are curious.
Some you remember, some you don’t, and some—after years of slumber—reawaken. I don’t reminiscence on childhood often, only indulging the rare moments when past youth resurfaces when prompted by my immediate situation or in an instance of quiet reflection during a long night.
I was an optimistic child, quite oblivious, but probably to my benefit. I knew what need and desire felt like but not what they meant. I first learned that I was poor when I realized that not everybody ate from the church pantry or made weekly runs to the Salvation Army’s soup kitchen with their mom.
Poverty was a situation I was ashamed of and tried to hide—dirt on my skin that needed to be cleansed. An ever crushing burden that I fought to cast away; to deny. What I later learned as I grew older is that poverty robs not only the body but also pillages the mind and soul.
I was happy and couldn’t contain my excitement. I wanted to show my parents the new clothes my elementary school’s principal had bought me.
Earlier in the day, in celebration of our placement on the Honor Roll, the school’s principal had selected another student and I to go shopping for the evening’s ceremony.
When I arrived home and showed my father the purchases he discarded the clothes and told me I was not allowed to go to the ceremony.
He yelled and I cried.
Eventually, after my mother’s intervention and consolation we attended the ceremony. I remember when they called my name and it was my turn to walk across the stage in front of everyone. I couldn’t stop smiling because in that moment I was completely happy.
I don’t know why this memory decided to visit me this evening. I’m glad that it did but I’m also ready to let it take its departure. It has reminded me that I have taken a long journey to this place where I am now in life.
I still have needs and desires but now I can fulfill them at my pleasure. I have been living a very full life and for this I am grateful. But perhaps, I am most grateful that the feet of a child took the first steps to take me here. Thank you.
Memories of childhood—like a dream.