Every man has a story about the day that their life changed. What’s your story?
By Anthony Cortez
I am not certain what day it was, but on this day my life changed. I walked into my first period class at 8:05 a.m. As usual I was five minutes late. I sat down trying not to call attention to myself. I opened Tuesdays with Morrie, the book I had been reading for the past few weeks. Soon I became distracted by my thoughts of my friend Tegan. She was on vacation in Virginia. I imagined Tegan with her short black hair hanging barely over her soft hazel eyes, sitting in front of her Apple laptop watching an anime show called Sailor Moon.
Soon sunlight peeked through the windows and illuminated the room. Classmates who sat near me started to whine.
“The light is too bright, I hate it,” they said in annoying, high-pitched voices that irritated me.
To pass the time I began writing about my sorrow and depression. Every few minutes I looked around the light blue room, listening to my classmates’ pencils and pens as they glided along their pages. I thought about what they were thinking and how they felt. I wondered if any of my classmates could see how engulfed in sadness I was.
Near the end of the class period, Mr. Danziger stood strong and confident at his tan colored podium and spoke to the class. My mind drifted off to another world as he began to speak. I stared at the tree outside the classroom window. I pondered how easy it must be to be a tree—all it has to do is consume water, sunlight and nutrients. A tree’s life is simple; it grows and dies. I envied the tree.
When I stopped daydreaming, my attention fell upon my classmates. They were smiling, chatting with one another as they were collecting their belongings and getting ready to leave class. Mr. Danziger’s deep voice broke my attention.
“Anthony, talk to me after class,” he said.
“Okay,” I said. What would he want to talk to me about, I wondered? I turned my work in on time.
The bell rang, alerting students to go to second period. I stood and walked a few steps and stood beside Mr. Danziger.
I am not certain of his exact words, but he said something like, “Your essay was good. You’re a great writer. Next semester come to class more.” He held out his hand for me to shake.
“Thank you,” I said in a quiet voice. I gripped his hand. I could feel his smooth, warm palm against my own.
At that moment I felt stunned, filled with disbelief. I have always believed I was nothing special and no one actually noticed me. But at that moment I felt different. For the first time I didn’t feel like an outcast. I felt as if I actually had something special to offer the world.
Shaking Mr. Danziger’s hand filled me with gratitude, an empowering feeling that made me feel like I could accomplish anything as long as I put my mind, heart and soul into it.
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Photo: US Department of Education