In this shoebox I hold your life; every fleeting moment of youth captured on the film within. Photographs of you, newly born, with rosy cheeks in your father's arms. The grandfather you never knew and his smile beside yours. Your first stuffed animal - an elephant your size - snuggled up beside you. You were so happy then.
The world must have been a foreign place to a child so young. You knew not where the cars went during the day, nor why the alarm buzzed in the morning. But here, within these photos, I see you playing in your mother’s office - the gray and dusty cubicle - with joy. The long rows of desks must have looked like a short wooden plank, and where they stopped, the desks opened into the frigid ocean void. Blackbeard had you captured, the crusty ol’ pirate prodded his sword against your back, ushering you down the plank. Drowning would have to suffice. But Ahoy! The British Flagship Xerox to the rescue! You leaped across the abyss while a flash of lighting immortalized the moment - and now I have a photograph of you at work hugging a printer. You were so innocent then.
The world must have been a bigger place to a child so young. Here, in these photos, you smile with a fresh scar across your cheek - the mark of the ruthless rosebush. The rose bushes must’ve seemed twenty feet tall, but you had no fear of adventure. Within that rose forest you explored, with khaki shorts and butterfly net, to be the first human to catch a living velociraptor. You drudged through the mighty rivers made from pothole puddles and endured the roaring storm of backyard sprinklers; that scaly dinosaur was no match for you. But there! The beast appeared from within the Honda, chasing after you and snatching you by the feet - now I have a photograph of you, thrilled, running from your father after work. You were so playful then.
It has been a while, sweet child, since I’ve last seen you. Years have past, and I know you are not the same child I used to know. But I do hope you remember the good times we had, letting our imagination take us anywhere so that we could become whoever we aspired to be. I hope you remember the better time. Because when I sit for hours at school and fix my eyes on the Xerox machine, I see a printer, not a pirate ship. When I raise my head from the sink in the mornings, I see the bags beneath my eyes, not the scar across my cheek. Now, I understand where the cars go during the day, why the alarm buzzes in the morning. Now, my entertainment comes from my phone, not from my imagination. Dear, sweet child, please come back. Teach me once more how to immerse myself in a world more colorful than this. Teach me to live a life not dictated by schedules, rules, and money. Dear child, allow me become who I once was, and I promise your future self will rejoice. Sweet Child, whenever I open this shoebox and see photographs of myself, I miss you.