Personal Creative Essay
My childhood feels like a dream to me, not in an idealistic way, but rather a different life that I lived long ago or a dream that I once had. My first memories are of that old, white, 1800’s farmhouse with dark green shutters, that sat upon acres of rolling farmland. I imagined, at the time, the soybean fields kept going until they reached the other side of the world. From my upstairs bedroom window, which often leaked when it rained, I could see the two old barns below. They were modest barns that looked like one quick gust of air could blow them over. Next to those withering barns, was a small pond that barely was the size of a pool. In the summer, ducks and groundhogs would move in and make themselves at home.
The summer days were my absolute favorite in that old farmhouse. I spent most of my days under the bright sun, feeling the soft grass between my toes, and the wind providing cool relief from the July sun. My dad had built a swing on one of the huge oak tree branches. I remember my dad pushing me so high that I felt like my toes could touch the sky.
Once the sun began to make her way to bed, I would always make sure to make my way to my favorite spot. In the middle of the upstairs, we had a small room that was called the “Widow’s Watch”. Long ago, the women of the household would wait in the little room to see if their husbands would walk down the long path to the house to return home, or if they didn’t, and then they would know they were a widow. I would sit in that little room upstairs and watch the lightning bugs perform their nightly light show over the dark green soybeans, as the sun cast its final bit of purple and blues in the sky.
I did in fact have quite the picturesque family. My mother had the most piercing blue eyes that popped against her thick blonde hair. My dad was the trifecta; tall, dark, and handsome. He used to carry me on his back for miles and throw me in up the air where I felt like I could fly. He would be there when he could, but he always put work first. My two older sisters were always beautiful by conventional means. Ana, the oldest child, was spontaneous, artistic, and a true free spirit. Faith, the middle child, was analytical, type A, and spent most of her days telling me what to do. I looked up to them both with true admiration, and often think that’s why I still find myself somewhere in the middle of their opposite personalities. I like to imagine I have two little angels on my shoulders, one that whispers dreams of spontaneous adventures and the other that analyzes and plans for the future.
I remember the day that our parents told us, my friend at lunch had brought up how perfect my family was and how she wished she had that. That night, which was a cold winter night, my parents sat us down on our brown leather couches and told us they
were separating. I felt blind-sided mostly. Maybe the signs were all around me, but I was too consumed with how the grass felt on my toes and the sun on my skin. I laid out my clothes for the next day of school, my favorite Hollister sweatshirt and some off-brand ugg boots. I cried, as silently as I could throughout the night.
The next day, I observed from the Widow’s Watch window, as my dad drove away with our white Subaru filled to the brim with all of his belongings. I never watched the lightning bugs put on their nightly performance from that window again, as all I could see was the memory of the white Subaru driving away.
My mom changed as time got further away from our conversation on the leather couches. She was often isolated in her dark room, and I would peek in to check on her. Sometimes at night, she would go missing, and Faith and I would have to go look around our town for her. Often we would find her weeping at her mother’s grave and the smell of alcohol on her warm breath. We would bring her back home at 4 a.m. and be up to catch the bus by 6 a.m., always acting like nothing had happened the night before. I think part of us wanted to pretend it wasn’t real. Eventually, she had to go to a psych ward for a little while, while Faith and I took care of one another.
Divorced parents were not an uncommon thing by any means. I constantly invalidate the pain I was enduring under accusations such as; “it’s just divorce, a lot of parents are divorced”, “you're playing the victim card”, and of course, “it could be a lot worse”. In the heart of everything going on, I overheard my closest friends invalidating my pain in the same ways. Of course, no one knew about my mom, we couldn’t tell anyone. In a small town, words travel fast and she didn’t want to be the local depressed- divorced woman.
In what felt like an instant, I was just a child enjoying the moments around me to depending on myself for survival. I taught myself to do laundry, how to feed myself 3 meals a day, how to ensure I was doing my homework correctly, how to do my makeup, how to clean properly, how to be there for myself in difficulties, and the most difficult: how to take care of a mentally ill parent.
My blissful childhood felt as it ended the day my dad drove down our long driveway. The grass never looked like green, the sun never felt as warm, and the old white farmhouse was only a painful reminder of what used to be.
Today, I still mourn the childhood that was ripped away from me. I still dream about the lightning bugs and the old withering barns, but I can never reach the warm sensation that it once brought me. Instead, I become filled with a sensation that is similar to when
you realize that you forgot something; a drop in your stomach, a sense of confusion, and a slight sting of what could have been.
I was able to stick to my routine this week! The creative routine allowed me to know how to clear my mind to begin. I utilized some yoga before I started to get myself in the right headspace. I loved the assignment because it allowed me to work on writing without telling the writer how to feel. I used an emotional personal experience that I could describe the feeling using the house. Overall, I love how the piece turned out!