I believe that the things that took me through my childhood will stay with me for the rest of my life. The beliefs and philosophies of my childhood were the first things I believed and I haven’t stopped yet. I grew up on the campus of Marshill State College, where Dad was a math professor. Our home was an old resident counselor’s lodge that had been abandoned once a new house had been built, and we lived in it for free. While Dad taught, Mom worked at McDonald’s for minimum wage and a free Big Mac. That was our dinner. When Dad came home, he would play board games with us, and afterwards he would work on the playground set he was building for Peter and me in the backyard. He was a loving father, skinny from sacrificing his meals for us to eat, and Mom always worked her hardest to make sure there was food on the table for us every night. We only thought about each other, because each other was all we had.
Today, my mom lives in a state four hours away, Peter lives in Korea, and my dad and I live under the same roof in two different worlds. Dad has a paying job now, and it’s been ten years since we’ve been inside our rundown cottage. Along with the new income came seclusion: my mom went on an extensive diet, her marble bathroom littered with diet pills and skin creams. Her focus in life had turned to physical beauty, not her family. When my dad came home from work, he would immediately retire to the basement to watch sitcoms by himself, a glass of alcohol in his hands. And now that my brother and I both had our own rooms, Peter spent most of his time in his with the door locked, and I spent mine wandering around the house looking for company. I still thought we were the tight knit family that ate meals together and loved each other unconditionally. But when my brother left for college, I finally accepted that things had changed. Our lives were so full, and family wasn’t a part of it anymore.
Our family relationships had suffered when we adopted a new lifestyle. But when I think of my family, I don’t think of the ten years we’d spent isolating ourselves; instead, I think about swinging on the red and white swings Dad had put together, my brother pushing me from behind. I think about Mom taking me to the campus park to pick flowers and feed pigeons with old bread. I think about my dad sitting by my bed, waiting for me to fall asleep as I told him about my day. I will always remember my family as the family whose small lives revolved around each other, no matter how different we are now. I believe that I will always hold my childhood family close to me, even though as I write this, I am alone.
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