Window Panes and Scattered Nails

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The sunlight collapses lazily against the windows of our tall, stately house today, yet the gracefully arching pathways and crisp white paint job hold steadfast against the lackluster attack. To some it may be a palace, while others see only a rickety shack. To me, though, this doorframe that I pass through every day, as well as the home it lends entrance to, is much more than anything that falls on this spectrum. It represents not only where I am now, but also, more importantly, how I got here.

Life wasn’t always so tranquil in our household. Our family had modest beginnings: a small three-room apartment on the shaded end of Cloverdale street. For a critically average four person family, it was slightly less than ideal, but my older sister and I both knew from a young age that what we had was better than most. We were more than content to whittle each day down to its knobby dusk at the speckled concrete playground down the street, huddled cozily together in our twin bed crammed in the closet as the last wisps of sunlight danced and teased their trailing paths out of sight each night. My parents, on the other hand, were less resigned to such a fate. Unsatisfied with our mediocrity, they took us on the short trip to Home Depot that ultimately became the longest journey of my young life.

Many of the people I meet today find my enthusiasm for hardware stores out of place, or even a bit exaggerated. However, to me, these stores really do feel like home, ever since the first time I stepped foot in one. The sweet scent of cedar enveloped me immediately, and my eyes widened to take in fascinating supplies and materials snaking up walls higher than I could crane my neck; solitary pieces just waiting to play their part in something creative and new. I pressed my chubby fingers against smooth and rough surfaces alike, determined to imprint all of these new sights into memory in preparation for the hard work to come.

From the second we reached home, the improvement and eventual selling of our apartment was an unspoken driving force behind our every action. My sister and I tried our best to keep up with the hurtling pace of our parents’ work, refusing to give up when we couldn’t pick up a heavy tool on the first try or wavered in our measurements. It was the first time I can remember feeling so passionate about anything; I was mesmerized by the goal in sight, and both my family’s and my own ability to work meticulously and relentlessly towards it.

The weather was oddly memorable in its absolute unremarkability the day we placed the finishing touches on our project. I slid the grout between the last pristine kitchen tiles in a less than ritual manner, the drizzle outside lazily applauding the culmination of the work that had consumed me. When we sold the apartment, gaining enough profit to move to the comfortable house on the water we live in now, I did not feel an immense relief in myself, but rather a craving to keep working, improving, and moving on to the next challenge ahead. As I stand today beneath the doorway of the house we worked so hard for, I can rest assured in not simply the fact that most of what I have today, I have earned, but more importantly, that there is more out there for me to work at. In both my studies and in my personal life, I am constantly searching for something to improve, and that is one thing that there will be no shortage of in my future.

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