My name is Noah. Some people at my school call me the dreamer, or “the boy with his head in the clouds”. I’m not denying it, but to be fair, it comes out of the mouths of kids with limitless opportunities. From the outside, I’m just like the rest of them. I go to school, pass my classes, go home and do it all over again the next day… but everyone has something else they desire.
Some choose materialistic things, such as a car or a new phone. Not me. I want to leave this place and never come back. My dream since forever is to travel the world. This might seem possible, even probable to many others, but I live in a 2 bedroom subsidized apartment in Chicago. The apartment is gloomy, cramped and roach infested. It has just been my mom and I since I can remember, my father has been out of the picture since I was in the first grade. Mom pays the bills and provides everything, but money runs tight. She works at the nearby grocery store, and always manages to stretch whatever money we have until her next paycheck by buying day old bread, the damaged canned goods and using coupons. We always manage to have food to eat, but there are rarely stocked shelves in our small pantry.
Our apartment has one bedroom, which my mom gives to me and she sleeps on the pull out sofa in the living room. She says that works better because she sometimes works nights and gets home late. In my room, I have a small window that faces outside and while I get some radiant light from the sun certain times of the day, the view is dismal. My window stares right into the side of the apartment building next door. It is a gray, dull building with paint that is chipping away and a gutter that is dangling from the side of the roofline. I hate the view from that window, but I love the light because it shines on an area of my bedroom wall that has opened a portal to another world for me.
The wall has old wallpaper from the prior tenant and it has tigers, birds and tropical plants on it. The wallpaper is partially torn off to expose a deep blue paint that reminds me of the vast ocean and next to that is a small cluster of mold that to me look like islands scattered in the Pacific. There is a small hole in the wall that is formed in a circle, reminding me of the caved grottos that are filled with deep waters and the domes that are on top of the buildings throughout Greece. This corner of my room is the last thing I see before I close my eyes and fall to sleep, It is as if I am in my own world with limitless opportunities.
It is a new day, Tuesday. My neighbors get rowdy every Tuesday when the show “Judge Judy” comes on. It is now eleven o’clock and I lay in my room, staring at my wall- I have to follow my routine. My neighbors helped the prior tenant put this wallpaper up. Clearly they have no taste, but I guess I am okay with it because the tigers and birds remind me of the grasslands of Africa. The Savana has always been a dream of mine to explore. The long stretching skies that shelter the animals, with thousands of miles for the birds to soar along with the tigers to chase their prey. While I watch this happening, I can sit in a large Marula tree observing the animals’ shelter as the sun sets. When it is dark out, I am surrounded by the crickets and other insects in the trees, the crickets drown out the sound of my neighbors and help me fall peacefully asleep.
But tonight I noticed something else, there is a small chip in the blue paint that is exposed on my wall. This chip looks like a small piece of pizza, so tonight I am traveling to Italy. A small boat takes me through the Venetian canals as I smell garlic and spices cooking. It is dinnertime and I am on my way to the most famous Pizza and pastaria place in all of Italy. The historical buildings and shining water keep me company as I pass through the canals. I ate the best pizza of my life and afterwards walked on the cobblestone ground to the Gelato place next door. My gelato was homemade with rich chocolate blended into creamy strawberries. Italy was perfect, just as I imagined. And I drift off to sleep with a smile on my face.
Morning comes and I am awoken by light streaming through my window. It forms a shadow over my wall and I think of the islands and the wide sea of blue around them. I hear water and think of hurricanes and tropical storms and then realize it is my mom getting the shower warmed up for me so that I can get ready for school. On the way to the shower, my mom tells me she has a surprise and waves two tickets in the air. My Grandfather who lives in California provided us with tickets to come and visit him, and If we like it, we are welcome to come live with him. As I step into the shower, I feel the warm water running down my face and I am immediately transported to the California beaches with surfers, sun and new adventures.