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 Every time I reflect on my childhood, my memory takes me back to about age 7. Dressed in a blue uniform with white collars, white socks, and dusty black shoes. My hair was pulled back, not necessarily nappy. My mom's face was swollen; it was always swollen (a story for another day). I walked uphill, the green hill junction, a very dusty and somewhat rocky road, hurriedly making my way to school before the start of my first class. I'd arrive sweaty and exhausted. It was at least a 6-mile walk most days on an empty stomach. I'd see one of my classmates whose face is engrained in my psyche; he'd hop out of his father's clean Mercedes and give me a look- like not a good look. He always looked well-kept, hair groomed, uniforms new and pressed, and he was one of the teacher's favorites. I was a perfect cocktail of smart and trouble. I mean, that's as far as my parts would let me recall.

 My parents loved us; they did, even though they never said I LOVE YOU. My father worked hard to provide, my mother ensured we were fed and clothed, and we were happy until nighttime when the fighting began. Loud banging, sometimes bleeding. I was traumatized by the possibility that my mother might be dead when I woke up; it was insane. My late little brother was a baby -he was beautiful, like my youngest now reminds me of how beautiful of a baby David was. One day, he got 3rd, and 4th degree burns to his entire body because he crawled into a bath filled with boiling water. I somehow blame myself for that day-I was only 5, but I think I was supposed to be watching him. He almost died. He was hospitalized for several months, wrapped in healing parchment. To believe that he survived that to die at age 20? How do you explain that? There are little compartments in my brain that I have tucked away for decades, but part of knowing who we are at the core and understanding why we do what we do is deeply rooted in what happened in our childhood. I was 7.