I remember the Sunday night before my first day of school. We had just finished dinner and helped my mom do the dishes while my dad did his usual routine and went into the family room lay down on the couch and turn on the television to watch the evening news. Dinner in our family on a Sunday was always at 4pm sharp. By 2pm you can smell the sautéing of onion and garlic flowing through the house as my mom prepared our dinner.
It always amazed me that she never had to reference to a recipe and that it was all by memory. Growing up as a first generation eastern European from Hungary / Croatia – Which at the time we referred to as Yugoslavia. English was a second language to me and my family. We spoke only Hungarian as my parents immigrated to Canada in 1970 and English was still a foreign language to all of us.
My room was on the second floor that looked out into the backyard. We had a huge backyard with a sandbox, a tire swing, vegetable garden, flower garden and pheasants. Yes, pheasants. Which I would lookout at every time I was in my room and watch them roam around within the confounds of their space. I would always get the sunset shining real bright into my room that would reflect off my mirror that would create this spotlight that would shine on my stuffed animals that would almost make them look lifelike. I was excited this Sunday night, I knew that tomorrow would be my first day at school and that made me feel liberated and anxious. I was rummaging through my closet trying to find the perfect outfit. The funny thing was, I really didn’t know what the perfect outfit was because I really had no influences in my life at that point that would indicate a a ‘good’ outfit or a ‘bad’ one. Nevertheless, I found the outfit I would wear for the first day. The outfit consisted of brown corduroy pants, and a baby blue sweater. Once I had the outfit picked out, I would lay it out on the floor in the exact form that it would be worn. Downstairs I can still hear my mom cleaning up the kitchen, pots and pans banging, plates clanging. The television blares loudly because he has a hard time hearing, although he would never admit to that. As I look down at my clothes again perfectly laid out, I feel a sense of accomplishment. I am ready to take on the world tomorrow. I look outside my window one more time and caught myself glancing over at the pheasants and realized that as of tomorrow, I will no longer be one of the pheasants locked up inside the fence.