I believe in the magic of childhood. The first of my many fond memories on the subject begins in Tampa Florida in a development named Westchase. As a kid, it was paradise. The houses were small and cheap and almost exactly identical to one another. They were a perfect fit for families who wanted to buy their very first house. Not only was this beneficial to the heads of the household, but it was also a godsend for their kids. Almost every house provided a playmate and as a slightly chubby six year old, I took full advantage. Every day was an adventure. We would catch the tropical frogs that stuck to the windows every morning and play football in the streets that were perpetually warmed by the sun. Each day the ice cream man would drive around in his little white truck and not understanding the concept of money but knowing that the candy and cold treats that he provided could be traded for the green slips of paper, it was an easy decision. Did I mention no give backs? The ice cream man always seemed pleased with our trades. Disaster struck when I found out that my dad had gotten a job offer in Cleveland, Ohio to work at its Art Museum. Besides there being a temperature difference, I later learned that the friends that I grew up with would not be leaving with me. As our car began to make the trip out of Westchase for the last time, I took one last look back only to find my friend Marco on his bike yelling after me. He stretched out his left arm as if to pull me back, but he could only keep up for so long and soon was left behind in a cloud of exhaust.
I lived in Shaker Heights for a little over a year and then moved to Hudson, and just like in Florida, I found myself surrounded by an amazing group of friends. Those warm summer days provide some of my fondest memories: skipping rocks at the pond, playing games in the woods so often that most of us became immune to the poison ivy that covered the ground beneath. We used to sleep outside at night and gaze at the stars. Things were so wonderful and carefree that I never wanted them to end but of course they did. I was accepted into WRA and eventually lost contact with the friends who before I held so dear. For the longest time I blamed myself for leaving everyone behind. Of course none of this was in my control and now I understand that. What makes childhood so endearing is that it has to end. It is limited and therefore special.
One day my friends and I walked outside after a heavy rainstorm to find a gigantic rainbow that seemed to take up a whole half of the sky. Because the Lucky Charms’ leprechaun promised us riches at its end, we ran and ran, and yet the more we did this, the fainter it became. Right then and there I remembered Marco and how he chased after me. How he never gave up and followed my car until it reached the end of the development where his parents had set an imaginary yet all-powerful boundary. He was young but not naive. He had to have known that there was no way his small bike could catch our four cylinder car. So why did he try and at the same time, why were my friends and I chasing this ever fading rainbow? I believe that among all children that there is an unspoken rule: do not fear the impossible. As all of us age we also grow in our skepticism and cynicism just because supposedly we are better informed about the world around us. In part this is true but as a result, the sense of wonder that we all once had as children disappears. It was for this reason that even when that rainbow disappeared and our chance at a pot of gold dwindled to zero my friends and I kept running. Without a care in the world we kept going. I believe that always to move forward disregarding the harsh realities that life throws at us is a lesson that can only come from one’s youth. It is the magic of childhood.
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