A Meaning For Me
This is something I will always remember and be thankful for.
I am forgetful. Very forgetful. I often find myself not knowing what I did yesterday, or an hour ago, or a few seconds ago. I often find myself standing still in the middle of a room not remembering what I intended to do in the first place. That's one of my biggest flaws, admittedly. But oddly enough, I also find myself remembering meanings very easily. This one is a meaning I will remember for the rest of my life. I know it's such a cliché thing to say, but I personally think that this is one of the few things that affects my point of views and opinions on everything.
Okay. Here it goes.
I was a clumsy and shy child (still clumsy until this very point, I wouldn't recommend you leaving me alone in a supermarket aisle) back in the days. A four year old me would bump into your figure and stare into your eyes before crying her lungs out in the middle of a shopping center. I would hold my mom's hand in a death grip, worrying that I would get separated on our way to the dentist. To sum it up, I suck at living outside my doors. The question that kept on popping inside my head is one; what would I do if I am all alone?
Unfortunately I didn't find the answer in time. I got into kindergarten and have to deal with a bunch of other kids I don't know. Strangers. Faces. To me, they're all just as dangerous as the evil men wearing ski masks in the stories my mom told me. They will hurt me, unless I say no and run for the nearest adult I could trust. For all I know, these people could sell my limbs and intestines in the black market and my name would be up on the police station's board of missing people among other kids that's been through the same fate.
Okay. That last sentence is clearly an overstatement, but I have made my point. People are scary. The concept of knowing one is even scarier. But my biggest nightmare is to engage a conversation with one of them. Not the teachers, but the kids.
Now, we're going to jump into my first day in kindergarten (yay!) but since I don't actually remember the whole hi-nice-to-meet-you-im-new-please-love-me-i-am-friendly, let's just get into the part where I ended up sitting alone in the playground watching my new friends play with a wooden stick (I know it is a peculiar thing to do but I could clearly remember this boy was holding up a stick and just screamed at his friend, who ended up doing the same thing).
After a great amount of time spent sitting alone, a girl my age came up to me holding up a package of oreo cookies (God I love oreos so much). She has this odd high pitched voice, which I didn't mind keeping up to, and for some peculiar reason the whole class (I found out that I shared the same class with her later on the day) didn't like her that much. She was always the one picked last at every group making. And being no older than a seven year old, confusion settles in quick into my brain. This is basically what happens in my mind when I noticed everybody else doesn't want her playing with them in a long period of time.
Me: "Um why? She's kind and she wants to play? Why are you pushing her away?"
Brain: "Gurl go find out."
Me: "Um how?"
Brain: "Gurl idk talk to her or smth."
And so I did.
The first few interactions were awkward, but I’m relieved that she didn’t push me away or anything. I found out that she loves pink, and barbies, and just all girly stuffs you would expect a five years old to be obsessed with. We hang out pretty much all the time, and that's when I figured out that she has Down Syndrome. Her mom and my aunt are close friends, and my aunt told me that she has difficulties with socializing with people her age, and when I befriend her she was more than excited.
And have I told you that she is the kindest person I have ever met? She brought me my story book when it comes to reading time, shared her most favorited meal at lunch, even helped me to hang my drawings on the board because back then she was taller than me. I know she doesn't do big things and doesn't cope well with other people, but she does small, meaningful things for me that she wouldn't do for other people. It was my first time being considered an exception, being considered worthy of somebody's time aside of my family. And that touched me. Really.
My aunt warned me, though. She said that people with such speciality can get really aggressive. She told me that I have to keep my distance if that happens. But thankfully, nothing happened. Our friendship continues and for a period of time it was nothing but blurry, happy memories for me.
Unfortunately our path splits in two when I got into elementary school earlier than she does. She has to go through another year in kindergarten while I could go straight into my first year in elementary school. I bid my goodbyes and for a few years we didn't cross paths anymore. Even when she got into the same school with me. I've got my new friends and she has hers. I've only met her when she joined the olympic team along with a few of her friends, as I was also in one of the teams for science and mathematics. For as long as I know she wasn't as shy and confined anymore. She's smart, confident, and has a supportive environment around her. I'm glad that she is well and healthy. But what I am most grateful for is the fact that she allows me into her life.
I am grateful that she allows me to learn so much about friendship.
For my entire life I've met a lot of people. New friends, families, acquaintances. I have met different types and characters of people, and have seen what they could become as a friend. Some are shy, others are more talkative and blunt. Some are amazing talkers and others are amazing listener. Some are more difficult than others, and some can be very tricky to handle.
If I hadn't met her, I would've seen the world in an entirely different color. I would look at other people with one eye closed, blind to the fact that everybody has their own kind of good beyond what they let the world see. I would've been a different person with a different perspective if I hadn't met her.
I am grateful that she lets me in. I am amazed by how such a young person could teach me something far more than what school subjects does. I am grateful for the meaning she gave me, for the little things she does in order to make me see that she cares. I am stunned by how she made the world looks a lot more beautiful and meaningful with her own ways. I will forever remember what she had taught me, what she gave to me in form of a friendship I could never forget.
And if you are reading this, Sal, thank you. I hope you will encounter the goodness and joy in life. May your smile enlighten other people's darkened souls, may your actions cured other people's blindness. I hope you are doing well, and I wish you the best life you could ever have.
Sincerely, the kid you talked to when she was staring at your oreos.