We are interested in learning more about you and the context in which you have grown up, formed your aspirations and accomplished your academic successes. Please describe the factors and challenges that have most shaped your personal life and aspirations. How have these factors caused you to grow?
His foot thundered down the stairs, followed by the heavy plod of his prosthetic leg. My brothers and my sister froze. The creak of the wood floor bellowed out a harsh entanglement of tones as he pivoted around the corner. The previous moment the four of us had been fighting, screaming the only obscenities our adolescent heads were capable of conceiving. The present moment, however, brought the former to an abrupt cessation. The moment was now prisoner, ready to be exploited and eviscerated by my father's inevitable, upcoming diatribe. The air was pure, while just for an instant, with a lingering, placid silence. The moment passed, shattered by his vitriolic release. "Animals! That's what I have raised! Animals!" I did not cry.
I turned up to school with cracked ribs on a December morning. Four fine lines of crimson left a venomous trail down the length of my arm. Navy and indigo hues stained my ashen neck. Hair tipped with the frost of the snow, I desperately tried to conceal the imperfections that besmirched my body. I feared sympathy more than the braided-woven leather of his belt. Another day infested with silence was considered a success. I ambled home, futilely battling the belligerent chill in my windbreaker. Walking through the provisional arch of a doorway, I ducked my head under to find the dark house encased in a disconcerting silence. The peace was shattered by a potent, unrestrained cry. My legs took care of the rest, guiding my body toward the distressed voice. My mother, home early, sat on her mattress, enveloped in doleful sobs. She told me to get in the car and I tentatively obliged. The car ride was drowned in laconic speech. Few words were exchanged. We pulled up to a hospital, exited our vehicle, and made our way up to Pediatrics on the fourth floor. Eight years old, he was lying in the hospital with porcelain skin matching my own. A moribund state infected his once vivacious presence. He would not make it. I did not cry.
The animal raiser was gone now. Fleeing our home, he had left my mom alone with my brother, my sister, and me. I desperately searched for the positives in his abandonment. With my younger brother long gone, my mother was only responsible for four mouths, including her own. My father's choice to relinquish his family from his ownership meant no more name-calling and no more hiding and no more purple skin. Despite my attempts to maintain a feigned veneer, I contended an optimistic view could stand to be suppressed for a while. I pressed into my mother's velvet skin, desperate to feel some sense of human compassion. I felt my eyes swelling under the burden of oncoming tears and I stifled them back. I did not cry.
The four of us lived in a motel. I woke up one night, street lights still illustrious in their brilliance, to hear my mother arguing in despondency with the manager. I heard her cry. I heard her yell. I heard her beg. She cried of her loss of pride and fell to the floor, desiccated and distraught. She later helped me lie about my age to secure my chances for employment. I held down a part-time job at White Castle and babysat late on school nights in an effort to pay rent on the room. Despite the exasperating struggle between homework and work, I felt I was happy. I did not cry.
I dedicated a multitude of years craving a daddy-daughter dance. I have been waiting to be called "Princess" or "Daddy's Girl" by the man whose approval I so desperately sought. While I did not necessarily receive such approbation, a more auspicious aptitude found its way to me. Although it would be to asseverate my father's egregious conduct was worthy of perdition, I resolutely believe he was responsible for fabricating my most propitious qualities. I hold my father, and my father alone, responsible for my addiction to volunteer work. Service provides me with the sensation that I cannot fail; I dedicate my time to those with no other resource, which establishes an inimitable sense of self beyond any stretch of the imagination. Witnessing the impact I now know I am capable of, that I may transcend past the status of mere "animal," extinguishes the once pernicious life I lived and paved way for gratification. I have the capacity to offer happiness and change, and as I let my eyes engorge themselves behind the undulations of immense pressure experienced only through this absolute contentment, trails of salt water swathe my ghost cheeks and I cry.