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From the editor's desk:

One of my earliest memories is curling up on the couch with my dad to watch Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street.

It was an atypical experience for a five-year-old. To this day, a movie hasn’t sent goose bumps racing up my arms quite like that one.

Of course, I was terrified. I remember watching through my fingers in bewilderment.

“One, two Freddy’s coming for you.” The song lingered in my head. Freddy haunted my nightmares. His glove. The burns.Craven died Sunday after a long battle with cancer, but his film is forever imprinted on my brain.

Scene-by-scene, my dad explained the gore in detail. He’s a horror buff who dragged my mom to these types of films when they were dating. My first time seeing Johnny Depp ejected from his bed in a pool of blood like a human garbage disposal must have been my father’s hundredth viewing.

“Lines form on my face and hands Lines form from the ups and downs I’m in the middle without any plans I’m a boy and I’m a man.”

—I’m Eighteen, Alice Cooper

But he’d pause the movie and tell me how Craven staged it. He distinguished the horror from the reality. My dad told me how Craven created Krueger’s burns — and he’d show me photos of how he used to emulate the burns on Halloween masks for his friends’ costumes.

These lessons made it easier to sleep at night, but they also instilled in me a love for the horror genre — and for Craven, the master — at an age most parents would deem too young. Truth be told, watching Nightmare with my dad was just one experience among many that shaped my growing up.

I am an only child. My mom is a nurse, and, as a child, I saw her mostly at night. My dad stayed at home with me. He’s an artist who opened me up to a world of art and culture that might have passed me by without his guidance. We’d pull out all of his old records and pile them in my bedroom floor with his record player set in the middle of the room. We flipped through lyrics books while listening to Kiss and Alice Cooper for hours.

When I entered elementary school, my world looked slightly different from the children around me.

“What’s your favorite color,” my teacher asked one day. We all raised our hand. She called on me. “Black,” I said.

When we’d color, I’d draw Gene Simmons blowing fire or spitting blood. I’d write “School’s Out” at the top of my paper and sketch Alice Cooper fighting a giant one-eyed monster.

My parents were called to the principal’s office and asked if our family practiced Satanism.

We didn’t, duh, but my dad got a big kick out of it.

I’ve been reflecting on those memories a lot recently. They were pivotal first-time experiences that left me wide-eyed and terrified. Similarly, in my last semester of college, I’m experiencing a lot for the first and last time. Last week marked the final time I’ll go to syllabus day as an undergrad. It marked my last first week of classes.

If you met me, you might think I have it all together. That I know my next step. But, secret’s out, I don’t. More often than not, I still feel like that horrified child tucked under my dad’s arm watching A Nightmare on Elm Street.

Follow Joshua Cannon on Twitter.

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