A Checklist on Growing Up

*For more information on the prompt that inspired this piece, visit here*

Experience Nature

  • The first time I ever really saw the sun rise was far away from the heart of Bakersfield, the town where I was forced to grow up. Since my house was on the edge of town, before the empty fields started and before the grapevine or the Five, I could see the sun rise every morning if I wanted to. A little before 6:30 AM the show outside my window would start. The sun would begin to peak its head from behind the Sierra Nevada Mountain range and would stretch its arms up and above my head. Even if I was too tired or too busy to stare at the mountains, the sun would continue its routine without me. As always, the sun never failed.

Do Something Brave

  • I once saw a dog fight outside my house. There were two mutts, one light gray with a wedge of white that extended underneath him, and another with a golden complexion. Their owners, useless once the dogs went at it, let go of the chains around each dog’s neck and stepped back. Now I can only remember one of the owners, he tried to pull his dog off the golden rod but it didn’t work. The mutt only growled from the side of its mouth and bit down harder. Blood started to gush out and onto the ground. The blood was what made me want to call someone, anyone that could help. 911. Animal Control. PETA.  I started to dial and was talking to someone on the other line when I hung up without question. I ran into my grandparent’s room with tears falling from my eyes. They had asked me where I lived, they wanted an address. Somehow I couldn’t find it in me to give that up.

Seek out New Surroundings

  • I once lived in a house with a front yard that was hidden under young fruit trees. I remember running through the “forest” as I called it, pretending I was an adventurer. Sometimes I went as far as pretending I was on a different planet in a world nothing like mine. One day when my family and I were inside, we heard gunshots outside our front door. My mom and aunt screamed for everyone to get on the floor but my grandfather, curious as he is, moved to the door to see what had gone on. We moved shortly afterward. About a week after we settled into our new home we found out someone had died on the street corner of our house.

Be Independent

  • When I first moved to Bakersfield, my mother had to go to Mexico for a while so she left me and my sister at my aunt’s house. I was around 12 at the time. We slept in a small room with a mattress on the floor. The first couple nights without my mom I cried but I got over it pretty soon. In those days it was get tough or be bored. Since the TV was in the living room I had one of two choices: Get used to not crying or get used to letting others watch me cry. Now, I’m kind of used to both.

Remember Your Roots

  • The last day I was in South Gate, the city I spent my first 12 years of existence in, I ran past my gate and said goodbye to one of my neighbors with a wide smile on my face. I waved bye to the many sleepovers and play dates we’d had at her house. That day she waved back at me as I left and I could sense a sliver of disappointment sour her face. Her mom had given me a photo album my friend had made for me as a going away present the day before. I, stupidly, forgot to mention it as I said goodbye with a wide grin on my face, waving like an idiot, ignoring the obvious. I didn’t even hug her goodbye. I was just there, rooted in my own silence and bound by something I didn’t yet understand.

Post by Gabriela

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