We Are America

Voices of the Nation's Future

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Photo ofGiselle Martinez

As a young child, one tends to think life is perfect and that nothing can go wrong. Over time, reality hits and results in a new perspective. Events that may not seem important later can become precious  memories to cherish.  When I was approximately one-year-old, I lived in a single-story house with a large backyard. It was yellow with a door the color of overripe strawberries in the summer; bushes ran along the sidewalk that had flowers the color of cherries that made you sneeze when you smelled them. Next door to us lived a friendly family that had a son named Nate. Nate was three years old- er than I, but we were best friends and often played together. He was like an older brother to me.  In my backyard, there was a drainage ditch, and across the ditch, there was a small church. Nate and I knocked down an old tree that was already leaning over the small ditch. The downed tree formed a bridge, so we could cross the ditch whenever we wanted without getting covered in dirt. We crossed the ditch often because, on the other side of it, there was a play area in the back of the church. In this small sandlot, there was an old, slightly rusted swing set with only two swings. Above the swing, there was an ancient light that cast a dim orange glow across the swing set at night.  Although this place seems like your typical play area for a child, it is a significant place from my childhood, hence the reason for the detailed description. It was the place where a very special bond was created between my father and me. My father was often away on business, but on the mornings that he was home and available, he would wake me up very early in the morning before the sun was up. I remember tiptoeing out of my lavender-colored room to put on shoes. Then he would carry me over the ditch to the sandlot. He would push me on the swing and tell me how much he loved me.  I valued this time with him because it helped me get through the times when my parents would fight, and it helped me remember that he still loved me, even though he would leave. He worked from dawn to dusk. As a result, I would not see my father for weeks at a time. My father became known to me through those early morning hours under that orange light. Although that time was short, it was the most important part of my day.  When I was only six years old, my parents got divorced. It was especially hard for me because I was not able to see my father for a long time. To this day, their divorce causes me to feel a pain in my chest as if my heart was breaking. As a result of their divorce, I struggle with getting close to people. The memories I have of the yellow house, with the large yard, and the met- al swing set across the ditch, comfort me through the difficult times I face today.  Sadly, we had to move away from the yellow house on June 1st, which was only fourteen days before my seventh birthday. Although I had to leave the house full of light, I refuse to let go of the memories that taught me the importance of family and friends. 

© Giselle Martinez. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person’s teacher.