From Moments to Memories By Caitlin Cheung

My Name, My Colors, My Story

With a name like Caitlin, there are so many spellings, and variations, and nicknames that people are always either asking “how do you spell that?” or simply misspelling it without ever even asking. That is something I have learned to accept. Spelling aside, they all have the same Irish meaning: pure, although I don’t even know what that is supposed to mean. My name is Caitlin Nicole Cheung, but it means so much more to me than just those nineteen letters.

I never really thought too much about the meaning of my name. I suppose no one really does. That’s just the name in which you are given and in which you learn to respond to from before you can even remember. And, like I said, I never really thought about it. That is, until one day in the fifth or sixth grade when we were told to find out about the meaning behind our name. When I got home from school that day and asked my parents, they said “it just kinda fit me and sounded nice.” I went along with it, and it didn’t really bother me. However, the next day when I went to school it seemed like everyone had fascinating meanings behind their names, being named after something or someone such as their mother, or grandmother, or past relatives they didn’t even know existed . Everyone except me. For a moment, I wished I was named something else.

As I have grown up, I have come to love my name, realizing the true meaning of it. You don’t need a past relative or a “behind-the-name” definition to determine the true meaning behind your name. It is what you make it. As much as your name defines you, you - and only you - define your name. There are seven billion people in the world, and there probably hundreds to thousands with the same name, yet they are all different, like a fingerprint. There has to be thousands of other Caitlin’s, but none are quite like me. I may be pure, for all I know, but throughout my life, I have learned that I am so much more. I am smart, although I do have my moments. I am strong, but occasionally I do break down. I enjoy being around people, but sometimes I like to just be by myself. I am the most competitive person I know, and there is nothing I hate more than losing. Each one of those qualities are like colors in a painting that all come together to make me and my story. I love my name, Caitlin Nicole Cheung, because it fits me and sounds nice, as my parents said, but also because it is strong, smart, competitive, and all the other qualities that I am. I also love the fact that my parents picked it especially for me. They chose the colors and now, throughout the story of my life, I am completing the painting.

Our Good Day: Leaving Paw-Prints on My Heart

February 7, 2010. A day I would remember forever as the day my dog, my little ball of fur, energy, and love, would enter my world and with that, my heart. “I’ll go get him,” the breeder had said. And I didn’t know then that that moment would come to mean so much to me.

He stumbled in on his dainty eight-week-old puppy legs. Three of which were brown with little white paws, while one was completely white. Running right up to me, I held my hand out to him as a gesture. A gesture that I would take good care of him. When he responded with the wag of his tail, I scratched behind his ear and ran my hands through the soft brown fur on his back. This soft brown fur would come to shed like crazy, but I would love it nevertheless. He was the runt, and everything about him was small, but there is something so special and innocent about a runt that really drew me to him.

Right then, we bought him and he entered my life. Who could resist his little black eyes with orange eyelashes, or his velvety soft ears that folded over at the point, or his wet button nose? I slipped a collar around his neck, and even though it fit too loosely, he would soon grow into it with time. And just like that, I took him home.

By the ride home, the stars outside were twinkling and he was curled up fast asleep in my lap. His one little paw -- the all-white one -- was warm as I held it in one hand, never letting go. He breathed soft, short breaths and I felt his chest rise and fall, rise and fall, as my breathing fell in sync with his. Would he know, that night as he fell asleep in my arms, how much more I would come love him? As I held him in my arms, did I know how much that one moment, that one memory, that one dog would come to mean to me? How he would be given not just the name, Bandit, but numerous nicknames that he would learn to respond to with the tilt of his head. How every single day I would say “Bye, Boo Boo, I love you” before leaving the house for school, and he would be right there at the door when I got home. And how he would curl up his warm body in my lap and sleep, just as he did that first day. I’m not sure we knew it then, as he fell asleep and I held him in my arms, but as I look back on it today, that was our best day. Our good day.

Tripped...By a Chair

Soft flurries of snow were falling and drifting down from the gray sky and blanketing the ground outside the window of my fourth grade classroom. It was December, and the snow thus declared the beginning of winter -- the best season of all for ten year olds, as it seemed in our nature to love playing in the snow. My classmates and I, who had earlier wished for a snow day but had not been given one, were stuck in the dark and dingy classroom. Although it was snowing outside, it seemed a lot colder in here than out there.

I sat at my desk that first true day of winter, gazing out the window, dreaming of the entirely different world outside. I hadn’t been paying much attention to what was going on in class, but my classmates and I were supposed to be working independently on packets of whatever curriculum is learned in fourth grade, while our teacher handed back papers. She apparently called out my name, as I was busy daydreaming, looking out the frosted glass of the window. When I didn’t hear her the first time, she called my name again, this time louder, snapping me out of my gaze.

“Caitlin, I called your name. Come up here and collect your papers. Don’t make me say it again.” I never really liked that teacher, but I stood up and trudged across the slick floor, wet from the now melted snow that had come off of everyone’s boots after returning from recess. Returning from the freedom of the winter wonderland that was outside, to here. In this classroom. That felt like a dungeon. Along the way, steps away from my teacher, my clunky snow boots got stuck on the leg of a chair in my pathway, and I went tumbling down. My face hit the ground first, followed by the rest of my body, as my classmates began to laugh. My teacher, and really what a tremendous teacher she was, simply placed the papers atop my back, never asking if I were okay or helping me up. She just went on to the next person, calling out their name. But at least she didn’t laugh at me. All the while, I just laid there, face down on the cold tile floor of my classroom. The dungeon. The fall didn’t even hurt, but forever reason, all the embarrassment and anger welled up inside of me and I began to cry and cry and cry. Trails of tears poured down my face, not like the flurries outside, but like a blizzard. And I don’t know how long I was down there crying, but I don’t remember ever getting up.

Credits:

Created with images by m01229 - "Colored pencils macro" • umezy12 - "Classroom"

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