Faye Rozario, Staff Writer
I remember my childhood in flashes of blinding technicolor. I see the dress I wore on my fifth birthday as a bubblegum pink swirl of cotton candy and chiffon. The cracked pavement of my elementary school yard outlined and sketched in with vibrant yellow paint. Freshly picked summer strawberries shining like rubies piled up in a wicker basket. The past, where my life was over saturated and glittering, holds skies bluer than my adult eyes have ever seen. And yes, the grass was greener too. But I didn’t realize I was living in a world lit up like a neon sign until I grew up and stumbled into the dark.
Looking back, it’s only logical to ask where all the colours went. The answer probably lies in the reason they were there in the first place. When you are young, you assume that the world only has good things to offer. There are no dreams too far out of reach, no mistakes too damning. Trees are friendly giants waving their branches out to you, flowers are for carrying in pockets and tucking behind ears. Santa Clauses, Easter Bunnies and Tooth Fairies bring magic into your day to make you feel special. Toys come alive through imagination, inanimate objects laden with all the creativity and hope you exert onto them. Parents are faultless heroes, teachers can do no wrong, and the police always save the day. Life for a child is a beautiful thing because the beauty is all they see. It illuminates every moment, allowing for only the brightest possible perception of the world to be captured.
Reality, however, dilutes the hues of those younger years. Things are duller now, and understandably so; years of lessons and experience have cast long shadows over that childhood utopia. Those flashes of childhood, those artful snippets of memory, are devoid of the encompassing awareness and understanding I have now. The little girl in the pink dress on her fifth birthday would have never thought that she would spend her teenage years stressing over marks and extracurriculars. She wouldn’t have ever anticipated criticizing her own appearance for every single trait that deviates from the societal standard. She didn’t think that there would ever be a time that she would identify flaws in her parents and worse, that she would find them in herself as well. She had no knowledge of the fact that simply for existing as she did, she could be treated differently based on her gender, or the colour of her skin. She was oblivious to the fact that the people who lead the world could be self-interested and corrupt, that so many could suffer for the benefit of so few. She was just a kid.
I recall so little about her. Honestly, the most defining characteristic I can attribute towards that girl is that she was blissfully ignorant to anything beyond her immediate surroundings. I wonder when she stopped being that way and when she became me, someone who is less naive and certainly far less colourful. It makes me think about how it’s a shame that the universe picks and chooses what endings we can recognize as they’re happening. Because really, for the great majority of things in life, sure endings are a luxury. We’re too often robbed of the opportunity for proper goodbyes and final words, taking forward with us only an unsettling sense of incompleteness. Childhood is one of those things. There is no warning of the ending—no one instance that sticks out as the finale. You can’t remember the last time you rode down an empty street with your feet on the handlebars of your bike. Nor the last time you made a wish on a shooting star. The last time you played tag with your friends. The last time you were afraid of the dark. The last time you had to close your eyes during an inappropriate movie scene. The last time you made a pinky promise. The last time you had to ask permission to stay up late. The last time you were simply a child. What a cruel joke it is that we don’t realize we’re living in the good old days until they’re over.
Yet although those days have passed, the memory of childhood extends beyond the years of our youth. If we let it, the spirit of that innocence can carry through our adult lives and touch our every day. Those children we were are still alive in all of us. The little girl in the pink dress is a university student now. She is working hard for her future, and although she is sometimes worn down by the weight of her ambitions and the stress it takes to fulfill them, she still dreams. Like her younger self, she loves chocolate cake and the smell of rain. She never stopped singing in the shower, or making wishes when the clock shows 11:11, or tripping over her shoelaces because she’s forgotten to tie them. She still thinks that music is best enjoyed when it’s coming out full blast from a car speaker, still believes that reading the book is better than watching the movie. And sometimes, when she is met with goodness and love, she still sees the world in blinding technicolor.