Editor’s note: The following essays and art are part of Xpress‘ 2016 Kids Issue, a colorful annual feature that offers local K-12 students a chance to express themselves through art, poetry and prose. This year, we asked kids to focus on themselves with the theme of “Who am I?”
SAND ABOVE THE TREASURE
I was young coming to Montreat, a place I didn’t know. It was unfamiliar: big green forests lunging over, wanting to swallow me into the wild; nights whose blackness was impenetrable. I was only a child then, with my mind thinking like Arnold and his purple crayon that you used to read to me every night. I wanted to use my crayon to draw a door to heaven, so I could visit you and take you back to keep me safe.
But day by day, I learned to live with you being gone. I was adaptable, and I got used to Montreat. I grew and saw that the forests were the sand above the treasure. I had to explore to know who I am. And through the years, I now know where I come from, even when you weren’t there.
I am from the wonderment of finding family out of friends who ran out in the rain on that hot summer day. Those friends are incomparable. They are a part of me, so to know me, know them.
I am from hikes and trips into the woods, the endless stories by the fire and the connections that make me who I am. The joy of sharing a part of yourself with someone through a story. Trudging in the forest, liberty and hunger in my chest, shoes in the ground ahead of me.
I am from the hard work, pain, suffering, death and sadness, for all that is part of me. Your death is a part of me; I have to live with that. My anger at my God: I have to deal with that. My love for my friends: They have earned that.
You saw me long ago when I was afraid. You watched me each summer, a snapshot in your eyes. You saw me grow, even when I didn’t know you were watching. And I count on that you’re still watching me, Dad, in the years to come.
— Scott Watson, The Learning Community School, eighth grade
My sister is someone I can always count on. She is someone I tell my deepest secrets to, because I love her dearly. Johari is my lifelong friend, not to mention my best friend.
I adore my sister: We’ve always looked after each other and had each other’s backs. Growing up, I was very passive, so Johari fought many of my battles for me. Once we were at some day care, and this kid kept shaking me and pushing me around. My sister must have thought enough is enough, and she karate-chopped the kid in the neck. He turned around to find no one there and looked down to see my sister. He punched her in the chest, and then they started to rain blows upon each other until the teachers broke it up.
My sister and I have been close ever since we were about 4 or 5. We’ve impacted each other’s lives in a positive way ever since we met. I taught her how to speak, so she was able to speak at a very young age and faster than average babies. We lived in the same room until I was 9, so we learned that this is someone you’ll live with until around age 18: treat them like you would want to be treated.
Basketball is something I’ve enjoyed since I was very little, when I played with my dad on the Little Tikes basketball hoop. I love basketball so much I got a real hoop for Christmas. My grandfather played basketball and was a great player. He always helped me learn the fundamentals and had me do drills. I always enjoyed his advice and listened to what he had to say. My grandfather has improved me as a player in so many ways I can’t even count, and I want to thank him for that.
Basketball is something I do when I’m upset: It calms me and helps me release my emotions in a positive way. Basketball is something I do every day, if I can. It has given me a work ethic that I use in school. I am Jackson Baschnagel, and this is who I am.
— Jackson Baschnagel, The Learning Community School, seventh grade
FINDING THE LIGHT
I’ve always been a big believer in finding the light. I seek it in the darkest of rooms, and when I can’t find it, I make my own. I’m someone who not only believes in light, but believes in every single monster under the bed, every wave crashing on every grain of sand, every life that every person lives. I’ve always been good at that. I’m not sure if it makes me a better person or just more neurotic, but it’s who I am.
My belief in everyone else has often been misinterpreted as confidence. That’s something I’m not so good at. People used to tell me that I needed to see a little potential in myself and stop concentrating it in others.
I come from people mistaking my stupidity for courage. I’ve jumped off every roof, tree and boulder, but that’s only because I treasure the feeling of flying so much more than my own safety. I come from long walks on the beach and saturated hair. I come from tugging on my sister’s sleeve, trying to drag her away from growing up. I’m the kind of person that wishes on stars and blows dandelion seeds, always seeking something to make me less ordinary. I’ve come to love simple things, like cold, fresh strawberries and holding dogs in my lap. People tell me I’m a mystery when the truth is, I’m so wide open that it’s boring.
I love giving hugs and smelling my best friend’s vanilla mist perfume. I’m the person in the corner with a slightly quirky attitude. I’m a dreamer, a believer, and I know that some of the best days of my life haven’t even happened yet. I treasure the future, I resent the past, and I stress and worry about every little detail. I shut people out because I’m afraid of hurting them, and I crack myself open so I can see the world more clearly. I dream and wish and hope, and I sometimes wish I wouldn’t, but I can’t help believing in tomorrow.
— Ella Carlinnia, The Learning Community School, seventh grade