The Importance of Understanding

Ashleigh - Aldie, Virginia
Entered on March 5, 2008

I believe in the importance of understanding.

It’s 8:52 on a Tuesday morning. I am unpacking my calculus binder and turning to page 27 for the warm-up activity. As usual, my friend wanders over to my desk. “I so did not understand the homework, what is u-substitution,” she asks as she scoops handfuls of my Cap’m Crunch and tosses her head back with each bite. Mumbling disconnected phrases about denominators and integrals, I dig through my backpack for anything to write with. I cringe as I hear the food rolling around the inside of her mouth as she asks the kid behind me if she can copy his homework during lunch. Small yellow squares that miss her mouth hit the floor and scatter under the rows of desks. 8:55, the warning bell rings – saved by the bell, literally. She yells a goodbye as she runs out the door to make it to her first class on time. When I turn around, my eyes go directly to the half-empty bag of cereal on my desk and the few pieces crumbled on the floor, squished under the soles of my classmates. I knew would be blamed for the mess and went looking for the trashcan. What a mooch.

I sit and stew over my annoyance and the rumbling of my hunger pangs until 10:32, when I am off to my next class. I see my friend across the heads bobbing down the hallway. I am half-tempted to give her the stink eye as we pass. She sees me and asks how calculus was. All I can do I look at her and laugh as I say, “Oh the usual, I’m just as lost as always.” I know I can’t be mad at her. Mooching is in her blood. Her family dynamic thrives on relying on others. Her father pays the rent, her mother lives in Europe, her uncle is paying for college, her grandma got her a job as a shampoo girl, and her mom’s best friend periodically sends her random gifts; just the average wants of any seventeen year old girl. Mooching is all she has ever known and it has rubbed off on her. I constantly find my breakfast half-eaten of see her walking down the hall in the sweatshirt I let her borrow last weekend. I could never totally blame this using behavior on her; it is just how she is. As a friend, it is my job to let go. I cannot resent her for her actions, or leave situations in a bitter mood. Understanding that this behavior seems normal to her is something that took me a long time to figure out. I realized the importance of understanding in a friendship; I have not let half eat breakfasts bother me ever since.