School Was My Happy Place by Braulio Reyes

I came to the U.S. at the age of five and lived in some apartments with my aunt for the time being. My parents later moved to my uncle’s house and then shortly after we moved in with my other uncle and then settled for a few years. I started school not long after moving and my parents had to adapt to this new world. Little did I know that things would shortly start to crumble. One particular night, I was awakened by the loud arguing in my parent’s room. I got out of bed, avoiding to make any sudden moves that might cause a loud sound. I walked in my pitch black room and tried to find my way to the door without turning the lights on so I wouldn’t let my parents know I was awake. Quietly and carefully not to make any loud stepping sounds, I walked to my parents’ room. Everything went quiet and all I could hear was the beating of my heart, loud with every beat it took, when I heard the words.

“Nunca vuelvas ni busques a tus hijos! vete! ya no te quiero ver jamas!” My mother said to my father in loud screams as she cried heavily. “ever come back or look for your kids! Leave! I never want to see you again!” In that moment I wished this was all a dream, but it wasn’t. So many questions raced through my head at the time. All I knew for sure was that I had to be ready for whatever was yet to come.

I started school at the age of five. Being the new kid in class was very challenging, especially because I didn’t know how to speak English at all at the time. I did know that school was meant for that, that it would help me learn this strange language to me. It was not long before I learned English and was on the road to learning so much more and advancing in my studies. I excelled in many areas, just as I failed at many, but having failed only made me come to the conclusion that I needed to focus and spend more time on my work rather than slacking off. I addressed the problem, but it’s been a long process of pushing myself and wanting to just give up. I kept doing my best in school and with the help of the teachers I didn’t have many problems. I advanced from kindergarten to first, second and then third grade and I told myself then that I wouldn’t let myself ever fail a grade. I would go home and ask my mother for help and she would try her best to help me as well as my father even though he was mostly never around or just too drunk to even talk correctly.

In a sense, to me school was my happy place. I got excited to go to school, unlike many other kids in my class. I felt that there I could learn something and the only problems I had to worry about were the reading, writing, or math problems. At home everything was quiet, but quiet like in a movie as a predator watches its prey quietly before pouncing on him and devouring it. One day everyone was happy and the next my parents were arguing over why my dad didn’t come home the night before or why he invited his friends over to drink. Many times I withheld myself from asking my parents for help because I felt scared that they would lash at me with screams or get mad. Those were the moments I wished to be in school instead of home. Luckily the next day at school my teachers would be there to help me with the homework from the previous night.

One night is all it took for things to reach their peak point. My parents were arguing loudly in their room and as I woke up I went over to their room with caution not to be noticed, to get a clearer understating as to why they were arguing. Right then and there when I heard my mother say to my father, “Leave!” I felt chills run down my back, I didn’t know how to feel, but at the same moment I could feel everything. The breeze from the air conditioner and the hard cold floor in which my feet were stepping on, the blood rushing all over my body and the many stories that my friends had told me about their parents getting divorced ran through my mind. I managed to move and get back in my room and in bed and closed my eyes tightly and forced myself to sleep. My mind was the hardest to put to sleep; it was as if my body was asleep but my mind was still thinking and trying to make sense of what had just happened.

The next morning I was awakened by my mother as she urged me to hurry and get dressed before I missed the school bus. I got ready and the first thing on my mind was the homework that was due. I was certain that I had completed it, but not so sure if it was correctly done. I was so busy focusing on school that I forgot all about the night before until I was on the bus and saw both of my parents come out of the house and both genuinely smiling and waving bye at me as the bus left. I exhaled in great relief; it was just a small fight everything was going to be okay, I told myself. I learned that day that many things in life can happen unexpectedly, whether it is good or bad, but school was my forget everything place. School was the only place that could get me distracted, help me mentally be prepared, and keep me focused on what I wanted.

School Was My Happy Place by Braulio Reyes

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