I believe in visiting my hometowns. Most importantly of all, I believe in my handprints.
When I come back every year to New Jersey, we drive around the town; waving at old neighbors and friends, stopping to eat at the old pizza parlor, and finally, visiting my old school. I reminisce at the playground where my cousin and I had played rescue the princess on the giant slide and lost our teeth falling off the monkey dome. I look up towards the school, and I see the old hallway that I used to line up in for any hopes to get a coveted jump rope. Though the big slide and monkey dome are long gone, and my jump roping days are over, I can still see the remnants of the holes from the equipment and the spot where I jump roped. I still have the memories.
Most important of all, I remember my handprints. The whole school painted their hands. My class followed our teacher to the front hallway as best as we could do with dripping hands (with my cousin right behind me). We put our hands to the wall and left a mural of big hands and small hands of every color all connecting to each other continuously through every hallway. “A ring of hands link everyone together,” my teacher read to her kindergarteners trying to explain the purpose to this silly event. As a kindergartener, I thought that painting our hands on the walls was bad. I did not know its significance until now.
I come back to visit them each year, remembering mine are the little orange hands in the front right next to my cousin’s green ones. But it does not matter which hand color or size we had back then because we cannot change it now. I will always have my handprints.
It is nice to come back to the handprints every year. It reminds me of my connections of where I came from and where my roots are. It explains the occasional New York accent slipping out and it tells a story of my early childhood. The handprints remind me of that freeness of children before the burden of homework, and it reminds me of life before my moves. They have taught me to be honest with myself and to look at things through a child’s perspective. They have taught me to come back to my roots to remember. No matter where life takes me between my three moves from New Jersey to California or Georgia, or what A.P. high school classes I am taking; my handprints will always be there.
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