I remember a lot of my childhood, especially when I reflect on how my circumstances have changed. When I was about five I lived in a room with my mom and her boyfriend. We shared the apartment with another family. This family took us in after we crossed the border. We slept in the same bed and the only belongings I had was a plastic doll, a cassette of Azul Azul which had my favorite song “La Bomba”, and a plastic clear bookbag. We were living in Arizona then. I only lived in Tempe for a year, leaving before I could even finish kindergarten. I remember not knowing how to speak English. I couldn’t understand my teacher. I would just smile and nod, but I was sad. I made one friend. She was an Asian girl who also didn’t know how to speak English. We were good friends in school. She sat next to me for lunch and waved hello and goodbye. We were the weird girls. I could feel it through the staring and pointing of the other kids.

 

We moved to Indianapolis around the Spring of 2001. There we shared a one-bedroom apartment with two uncles. My uncles slept in the living room and my mom, boyfriend, and I slept in the one bedroom. The bedroom was larger than the one in Arizona, but we had no bed. I remember that we slept on the carpet floor until we bought a large enough mattress for the three of us. It was a secondhand mattress, and we just laid this on the floor with some sheets and pillows and a blanket. I remember that I would roll out of the bed and into the closet. The closet would be open since it had no clothes inside and that was where I would wake up. It was funny. It was later on that we got more clothes and a small television.

 

I loved watching television. I learned English through watching shows like Arthur and Zoboomafoo. The television was old. It had knobs and an antenna. It was a nice boxy television. I remember Fear Factor and WWE being my favorite shows. I also recall images of shows like Friends, Gilmore Girls, and The Simpsons; considering them boring, I would just skim through them. My favorite movie was Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, which scared me even though, at first, I understood very little of what the characters were saying.

 

I was around seven when I first got my own bed. It was a daybed, and I got a Hello Kitty bed set. I accumulated more toys, too; Barbies and other stuff like books and crayons. I remember that I would use books and small washcloths to make the beds for my dolls, and I used tissue paper for dresses and pillows. My mom later bought me a Barbie house for Christmas. I got my first bike on my eighth birthday: a pink one. She bought it at Wal-Mart. I learned to ride a bike by myself. All my friends had bikes already and they would sometimes let me ride them. They were small two-wheeler bikes. I never used training wheels when learning how to ride a bike. I fell a lot, and I still have scars on my knees to prove it.

 

I remember all my childhood friends: Trixi, Junior, and Jonathan – they were all siblings. There was also Rontoria and her brother Rony. There is another girl whose name I don’t recall, but I do remember her face – I would play this Barbie computer game at her place. I also would play with a girl named Amaroni or “Macaroni,” as Trixi and I used to call her. I would say my best childhood friend was Brian. We did everything together. We played with our Gameboys together, engaged in cardmaking and soccer. We chased geese and skipped rocks. We would go to summer camp together. We also had fights. We basically did everything together. Our mothers also did everything together; they hung out a lot and worked together in housekeeping at a hotel. Because he liked me so much we eventually got used to each other. I hate to say it but at the time I didn’t like him as much as he did me. I wish I could see him again. Our mothers had an argument and I haven’t seen him since I was ten. He relied on me so much; it’s a friendship I lost on my way.

 

As a kid I was very independent. I would walk to the bus stop alone, and I would make my own bed and wake up in the morning by myself. My mom just made sure I was doing fine, but she was never reminding me to do my homework or forcing me to wake up for school. I knew how to cook breakfast when I was eight, because I wanted to. I would only go outside and play after I finished my homework. I played games like “stop and go” with my friends on our bikes, and made food with leaves and dirt. We played ball and tag. I remember one time, during the fall, Trixi and I made a pile of leaves and jumped on them; it’s not as pretty or pleasant as it’s portrayed on television and movies. The leaves got stuck on my hair and when we jumped the ground was hard and uncomfortable.

 

I had a nice childhood, I never had everything, but I had more than I believed I needed. It was a great adventure, being a kid. My favorite sweater was a Pokémon sweater and my favorite t-shirt was a pink Jigglypuff t-shirt. I miss being that age, even though when I was that age I wanted to be an adult. I felt like I deserved to be considered one.

 

I grew up at a very early age. My upbringing was simple. My mom ended up separating from her first boyfriend. I didn’t like him. He would tell me he would like me if I had been a boy. He was a sexist. Now I have a different stepdad, who is more of a father than my biological father. My mother, however, will always be awarded the role of both father and mother. Every situation that I have so far encountered has been for a reason, or at least I hope. Though I grew up with very few luxuries, my mom has given me something more valuable than all the luxuries in the world: she gave me an education. My education cannot be taken from me. Poverty of the mind is permanent; relative poverty is not. It’s not how much we make annually that counts, it’s what we do with our education that determines our value in life.

 

Brenda Salazar is a film student at SVA. Born in California, and raised in Indianapolis, she moved to New York looking for a new adventure. Filmmaking, playing the violin, reading, and watching movies are just some of the few things she enjoys in life.