The Roots of Myself By Joel Culkins

My Name

Nothing seems wrong with my name at first glance, at least for my first name. It is not common nor rare, just somewhere in the middle. I like it like that. It is not jumping out at someone when read off of a page, but it sticks in your mind and it is difficult to let it go, like a song that is stuck in your head. To some people, it is very unheard of. Thought of as weird.

My last name comes from my father, like most. I seem to be destined to fit into the majority. My mom’s last name, Steinmann, has stopped on this side of the family, gone extinct. It still roams in me, alongside that of my father. Hard workers, caring people, and always sacrificing. It is exactly what I want in a person to look up to.

My name represents how I act, or how I should act. I’m always trying to take a detour out of my everyday route to make someone else’s life. Even if it is just chopping the wood, feeling the like a knife through butter if done right. The axe head just slams head on into the trunk that I am cutting on and sits there waiting for its next orders. In that moment the wind is less fierce, the cars zoom by in tranquility. I could have heard the scurrying feet of a mouse running across the sand near me.

When I see my name, written, signed, scribbled on a paper, the first word that comes to me is blue. I see an ocean, waves as noticeable as grass growing. No one is around, except for the whispering seashells, hiding all the small animals, telling them where the seagulls are. But there are no seagulls around, not in such a peaceful environment. There is a crisp, cool wind, like sitting in front of a fan that is on a low setting, igniting goosebumps on my arms. I feel peaceful, soothing. Just looking at my name, written, signed, scribbled on a paper.

That Woman in Need

It was a gray day on the first Saturday of October, the day of the Horseshed Fair. For the given weather, the place was lively. The piercing wind could not penetrate the kindness and happiness of anyone. Even the rain fell to the ground without harming our good time as if we were all wearing some type of armour. Nothing could seem to get better.

I was with my mother and brother and we made it through the whole place, only looking into the tents. We headed for the book fair with hopes of the fudge in the raffle, which we just deposited half of our tickets in. We strolled into the Town Hall, where the book fair was being held, and gazed at the transformation that took place. There were rows of tables with boxes on and below them filled with books and then there were even books on chairs, probably because they ran out of boxes.

Once again, we just looked around and did not do much else. However, on our way out, the director of the library, who was overseeing this part of the event, stopped me and asked if I could carry the books of an elderly person with a cane to her car. Being a gentleman, I agreed, not realizing that she was not done. I followed at a distance to make sure she did not hobble out the door, like leaving the Thanksgiving dinner after a third plate. A half an hour later, she was finally done.

On the way out, the old lady said to me, “You’re mother did a damn fine job raising you.”

I had to mentally take a step back. In that moment, millions upon millions memories of good deeds, and every one that came to mind had one thing in common: that I did it out of my own motivation, no one forced me to do anything. I felt, right then and there, that this was who I was and who I wanted to continue to be. Even though carrying books of an elder to their car may just seem like the right thing to do, it was the concept of being noticed by someone. This attention directed my moral compass.

This one act of kindness kept me looking for more to do. I like to think sometimes that if I could do one thing for someone and make that one person’s day or do something helpful for them, then I accomplished something that day.

The Barbeque that Never Happened

Cape Cod was the place to be midway through one of the nicest Julys on record. Like a club on Friday nights, the Cape was packed with visitors, easily outnumbering residents. The week I was down there with my brother and sisters. was paradise with a little extra excitement. Throughout the whole week, we knew that the barbeque of a family friend was approaching. We were counting down the days on our fingers until Friday like a little kid counts down to Christmas Day. Each time I thought about it, I could taste the tangy barbeque sauce and could imagine it dripping down my chin like a running faucet. I just could not wait.

However, some bad news had to find its way to me. We got a call from my mommy. She told us the horrible news. I did not hear much, just that the barbeque we were supposed to be going to this Friday was not going to happen. All of that sweet and tangy tasting barbeque sauce, dripping of my chin was swiped away by evilness that was around.

I remember staring out onto the pond, so calm and peaceful. I looked at it. Something bad is going to happen to that, I thought. Something will ruin it. Right then and there I wanted to throw whatever was in my hands. I just could not stand it. Why did this have to happen to me? I could not think of why it had to happen to us. We never got to do stuff like this. I was not very happy at the time.

Nothing could have made that trip better. For the next few days I was in a sour mood, more sour than Sour Patch Kids candy. Even those could not help my situation. I just wanted that barbeque, so sweet and tangy in my mouth and have it dripping off my chin like a leaking faucet.

Thank you for experiencing the roots of what has made myself me.

Created By
Joel Culkins


Created with images by Tim Green aka atoach - "Roots" • PinkMoose - "perpetual care" • cluczkow - "ocean" • johnomason - "Cape Cod Lighthouse" • combust - "..."

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