I lived on my own at a very young age. While in high school, I had my own apartment and a part-time job. I made sandwiches in the evenings at the Local High-End Deli to pay the rent. This was a very difficult time in my life and I carried around a large chip on my shoulder.
There were two girls at school, Danielle and Sarah, whom I believed to be stuck up. They were beautiful and rich. Danielle once went through two brand new Saab convertibles in a three-month period. And she had a car phone in 1988! The boy I loved was in love with Sarah. Sarah’s father was a well-known architect and drove a Porsche. They both lived in mansions with swimming pools. I perceived their lives to be perfect and somehow at the expense of my struggles. I think I might have hated them.
As a member of the PTA, Danielle’s mom took me on as a charity case. She would pick me up in the biggest, blackest Jaguar money could buy and take me to get my teeth cleaned and my eyes checked. Mrs. Wilkinson was artificially young and tan. She was a professional socialite and a regular at the Local High-End Deli. I believed she pitied me and I felt humiliated.
I began eating Monday night spaghetti at the Wilkinson’s every week. Danielle’s dad was hitting the scotch heavily and loud arguments would often occur over dinner. Afterward, I would go upstairs to Danielle’s room and listen to her cry. Her parents got divorced that year.
That same year, I returned home from school just before Christmas break to find a large and beautifully decorated Christmas tree in my tiny apartment. I remember thinking on the walk home how depressing it was that I would be spending the holidays alone, and then I opened the door to see this giant colorful tree with blinking lights. This gesture has had a profound impact on the person I have become. While they never admitted it, I know it was Sarah and Danielle who gave me the tree. Mrs. Wilkinson was the only other person who had a key. After break, I ended up spending a lot of my time with Sarah and Danielle. We hung out at the pool, ate lunches together, and even went to the prom together. As it turns out, they were just regular people like me who had problems and cared about others.
I believe it is possible be so blinded by our own baggage that we miss out on the best things in life. I believe one cannot truly see another without knowing them. I believe it is wrong to judge a person based solely on preconceived ideas. People of all sorts of different backgrounds can have more in common than they realize. Having Sarah and Danielle as friends was the best part of that otherwise difficult year. I believe it shouldn’t take a Christmas tree to open my heart.
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