The Apparition Of A Boy
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The Apparition Of A Boy

Reflections of Myself

The Apparition Of A Boy

When I think back to my childhood, I usually picture my grandparents’ house. I remember the backyard, verdant and full of life. I’d play around in the vegetable garden during the day, the sweltering heat radiating from the soil, and during the lazy summer evenings, I’d sit on the patio and breathe in the tranquility of the night, the sweet smell of ripened grapes wafting out from the moonlit vineyard. I remember the upstairs living room, which was hardly ever used and always quiet. It was away from everything else in the house, and this space became my personal realm of imagination. It was here that I went on my bravest endeavors, fighting off magical creatures to save a princess or running through a perilous obstacle course suspended just above a pool of lava. And I remember the family holidays. Upstairs, I would rearrange the presents until I was satisfied with how they looked under the tree; meanwhile, everyone else in the kitchen downstairs was either watching a holiday movie or helping Nonno and Nonna (Italian for grandfather and grandmother) get Christmas dinner on the table, the smell of the seafood filling the house. I watched the pulsating lights of the tree in silence, and when I turned to look out the window, I was in awe of the ethereal beauty of the fresh snow-fall outside.

During those times, I felt invincible. I thought nothing could bother me or interrupt my corner of paradise. I believed the good feelings would never end, and I never humored the idea of worry or doubt or stress. But time pushes everyone forward, whether out of cruelty or out of mercy, and maturation breeds responsibility which breeds worry and doubt and stress. Those memories are no longer a present reality but unknowingly grow more and more distant the more we are caught up in what is happening around us in our lives.

You never consciously acknowledge just how warm and comfortable a blanket is until you have felt what it’s like to be cold. That’s how I felt about Nonna’s house when I returned back from my first year at college. Something seemed different about the garden, the vineyard, and the empty living room. Everything seemed so much smaller. It was the first time I had consciously realized that I had grown up. I was sitting in the familiar silence of the rarely-used living room when I took a moment to look around. All of the things I had seen as a little boy--the paintings, the plastic-covered furniture, the ornate lamps--suddenly felt foreign. I was nostalgic, yet I felt like I was looking at these things through a pair of eyes that weren’t my own. And that’s when I saw him.

I saw a little boy playing. He was rolling around on the floor, jumping from sofa to sofa, playing with toys on the ground, and drawing pictures at the table. He was a normal little boy with the same carefree and innocent demeanor as any child, with the exception that I could see right through him. He was a hollow, translucent figure of a little boy that once was, a ghostly figure who was at the same time a reality and a vision. The little boy was me.

The memories were so overwhelmingly potent, I felt like I could actually see myself. He was both myself and not myself. He was undoubtedly me but was also a different thing entirely. I saw him and I broke down. I wanted so much in that moment the warmth of that blanket I never knew was there. I had forgotten how nice it was to be so young with so many prospects ahead and so few in the moment. I longed not so much for the naivety but for the simplicity of what he had. I wanted so much to grab him by the shoulders, pull him towards me, and say, “Cherish every moment.”

I said earlier that time pushes everyone forward either out of cruelty or out of mercy. If we are far enough removed from a moment of our past to see it objectively, we realize that time moves forward out of necessity. The notion of wanting to recapture a moment is a foolish one; holding on to anything too hard is paralyzing. Certain joys and sorrows can only be appreciated at certain stations in life, and it is an act of justice that this is our reality of living. Otherwise, we would either be living in a moment of perpetual torture or a moment of perpetual bliss, which ends up being torture anyway.

I still see the image of that little boy every now and then. Sometimes I see my Nonno, who has since joined the cloud of witnesses, standing beside him. When I see him now, I smile at him with fondness. I thank him for the lessons he has taught me about myself, and I’m glad he’s helped me appreciate the blessings of today. The blessings of yesterday, however, sometimes don’t disappear but only wear a different guise. I still have the warm feelings of family holidays and still love the aromas of the garden on summer nights. Those sorts of beauties are timeless.

In the past few years, my family has experienced new blessings through marriages and children--real children. I see my young cousins play in the same places I used to play, and I smile. Now it’s their chance to go through what I had the privilege to experience, and I get to watch it all from a different perspective. I pray for them often, asking the Lord to bless the days of their youth and their coming to understanding and know Him. As they grow, I hope they’ll eventually be able to take moments to appreciate life, and when they get to an age where they have enough years to look back on, I hope they’ll look back with thanksgiving, seeing the stamps of Christ’s love through the people put into their lives along the way.
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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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