I have been fortunate enough to have traveled around the world and I will admit that California embellishes the soul in a unique way, apart from the rest of the world. I have lived on the blue corner house at in California on and off for as long as I can remember. My next door neighbors at the time were two Caucasian older women. They were thin and very tall, with shoulder length brown hair, with fine age lines covering their faces, necks and hands. In front of my house lived an Asian family of 5, who was always courteous enough to greet me and next to them lived Becky and Pat. Becky and Pat were great, she ran a childcare center from her house and he was a cop, they had two beautiful children.

At age 11 there really wasn't much I could do to make money, so I did whatever it took, well almost, I tried staying away from housework. I remember washing my mother's car for a couple of dollars but that was not enough for me to pay my way into Star Skate on a Friday night. I had to make "ends meet" as I saw it, so I decided to ask Becky for a job in her childcare center; at the time I was not really a kid-person, as a matter of fact I get annoyed by crying babies and winning toddlers but I thought it was worth a shot. I started working with Becky around 4: 20 PM on Fridays, I would make sure all of the toys were picked up and in the mini plastic pool where I would sterilize them.

I would scrub them with bleach and soap until my eyes started watering and the smell was too strong to handle. After rinsing them and drying them with an old raggedy towel I would set them back on the shelf... Around the corner from my house, down the street from J.X. Elementary School and across a muddy ditch, a sturdy fence and some brown apartments was my favorite place in the whole wide world; Star Skate. Thinking about childhood memories always takes me back to that special place where I was anyone I wanted to be.

Star Skate was a magical place that would make me forget about all my worries. It had a sense of overwhelming peace and joy that would overtake me and carelessly brighten my days; this was my heaven. Over the many years I skated there I made literally hundreds of friends. It could have easily been called my second home if not the first. Star Skate was an old filthy place with ugly blue carpeting which at one point had been royal blue, broken blue lockers with orange keys and the ugliest skates I had ever seen. The rink was OK I guess, nothing fancy just a rubbery like surface and two glaring disco balls hanging form the center.

The side and back walls were covered with stars and planets; yellows, greens, oranges, purples, blues whites and every other imaginable color. It was here and only here where I could drift far from reality and the problems of a 12 year old. I felt sheltered, protected form anyone and anything and better yet I could dream. As I spent there every day of my summer for many years I was sure I had though about life long enough to decode it. I thought I ruled the world. A couple years went by and the "I rule the world" attitude started getting me in to trouble, I had neither respect for my mother nor any other authority figure.

In my family behavior like this is not tolerated so my punishment was to move with my aunt to Mexico City. At the beginning I hated Mexico City, I thought it was the most incredibly populated and most polluted place I had ever seen. I couldn't stand the heat nor the people and worse yet I could not tolerate the fact that their skating rink was an hour and a half a way. Mexico was a lot different from the beautiful Sunshine State, it was noisy, crowded, dirty and extremely crowded. It took me a long time to get used to the fact that my life had changed, that I was no longer in a place so familiar to me, nor would I be close to the people I longed for. I needed to take matter into my own hands so I decided to make some friends and pickup some old habits.

I started skating around the old rocky roads in my neighborhood, on the basketball courts and anywhere adequate enough. Time went by and it wasn't long before I adapted and started discovering that Mexico too had beautiful places and the most amazing people I have ever met. However, home would always be home and there was no way I would pass up an opportunity I had waited so long for; 6 years to be exact. Now I come home not recognizing the place where I grew up nor the people who I knew. Now I come home to nothing more than memories.

Star Skate is gone, and although I will never be able set foot on that rink and relive my endless childhood I am still grateful and forever will be. I am grateful because Star Skate made me a better person..