I had a small, rich and happy family.
There was my dad Harry, my mom Wendy, me and my little sister Mei.
Back then, we were fine. Mom and Dad had no problems during that time.
Until one winter night, Mom and Dad started to fight.
They didn’t hit each other but they did yell really loud.
Mei and I were told to be in our rooms and out of sight.
I could hear Mei cry with all her might from my closed bedroom door.
The house suddenly became silent.
The sound of footsteps approached my room and Mom opened the door.
In a panic she said, “Pack up your clothes and shoes, Aria. We’re going to stay with Aunt Helen.”
So I did as I was told and packed my shoes, clothes, my toys, and trinkets I thought of like gold.
Mei, Mom, and I dragged our suitcases on to the snowy driveway outside.
Dad’s expression at the door as we walked out was anything but happy.
That was the day everything changed.
We moved into a rundown apartment in New York City with nasty bugs and stains inside
Mom was always sad.
She only stared up at the ceiling and quietly said “Why me?”
I didn’t know why.
Mei would cry every night for Dad under her old torn blankets and pillows.
I didn’t know how to make her better.
All I knew was that we were never going back to our big house.
I checked the mail every day, hoping for a letter or a postcard from Dad.
But nothing came so I stopped waiting.
Then waiting turned into madness.
Then madness turned into my brain exploding.
Mom was still sad, Mei was still crying.
Nothing was making sense.
So, without a second thought or care, I packed some clothes and food in my brown backpack.
I ran away from home.
Why? I don’t know. I’m not sure.
I’m just a 13 year old boy.
The sun was still out even though it was 7:35pm.
So I walked around the city with my heavy backpack as the sun went down.
There were some pretty things.
There were some beautiful things.
There were some ugly things.
I didn’t see anything interesting until I got to Time Square.
It was busier than bees in a bee hive.
Everything had life.
On the corner of a crosswalk, next to a McDonald’s, a really short old man was sitting down playing a harmonica.
He was a little scruffy looking.
His hair was quite dirty.
His nails looked like a dog’s nails.
His clothes were torn and raggedy.
His feet were as rotten smelling as a moldy piece of cheese.
However, for some reason he looked very happy.
I went to him and asked him, “Why are you so happy?”
The old man didn’t have anything but himself.
He only stared at me and laughed.
“Why not, boy?? There’s a lot to be happy about. It’s no fun to be sappy!” He said.
The short old man smiled like a happy clown.
The Time Square people walked by us, looked at us, and frowned.
So he waved “hi” but no one replied.
They kept walking by like he was wasting their time.
“Look boy,” he says, “find some piece of mind. You’re only a kid. You have a lot ahead.”
“Why should I? There’s nothing left for me in my life.” I replied.
“There is but you have to look for it. It may be in front of you, boy.” The old man insisted.
“I don’t get it.” I told him.
“Make the best of what you have or else life will be a drag.” He smiled again like a clown.
“So I should appreciate my life for what it is, right?” I asked.
He stared at me and laughed whole-heartedly again. “Yes! Now, do you understand?”
“I think I do.” I assured the old man.
“Good, now go home boy. I’m sure you’re family is waiting. You’re too young to run away.”
“Thank you, sir. I will. My name is Aria by the way.” I shook his dirty, greasy hand.
“Stanley Van. I hope to see again one day my friend.” He softly shooed me away.
I smiled and waved bye. Then he replied, with a smile with more gold than my father had my whole life.
I’ve found my peace of mind and was ready to come home.
I went to a payphone and told Mom I’m sorry for running away from home.
She only said in a sob voice, “It’s okay, just come back safe. We miss you.”
So I ran through the city’s nightlife and back to my rundown apartment.
This time I walked through the door without any resentment, only smiles.
Mei wasn’t crying anymore, she was smiling at me.
Mom wasn’t looking at the ceiling, she was looking at me.
For once I felt whole again.
I have to remember, I have them; my family.
Love, that’s all I need.
Dad can keep his money and jewels.
I would be a fool to choose those over them.
I don’t need it.
Life is how it should be and that’s how I want to keep it.