If I could pick one word to describe myself as a middle school kid, it would probably be “hungry“. Well, that and one other “H” word that pretty much describes any pubescent middle school boy.
When I was a baby, my mom was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and was soon fired from her job as a flight attendant. It’s hard to be a good flight attendant when an autoimmune disease makes is causing your hands to shake uncontrollably on an airplane moving 500 miles per hour at 39,000 feet.
My dad remarried and lived in California, and he didn’t pay child support. That meant my mom had to raise me and my sister with just social security and disability checks. Needless to say, we didn’t have a lot of money. If it weren’t for my grandma letting us stay in her basement, we would have been in big trouble.
I’m not complaining about my childhood. I had the best mom a kid could ask for. I played every sport I wanted (expect football because it scared Mom), had presents under the tree at Christmas, and had lots of friends. I didn’t have a privileged childhood, but I did have a darn good one.
A Growing Boy Needs to Eat
The problem was, my mom didn’t have a lot of money for lunches. I’m certain we could have qualified for the subsidized lunch program, but my mom didn’t raise me to take handouts. We paid for what we could afford, and didn’t buy what we couldn’t.
Mom would give me $10 on Monday for lunch for the whole week. If I remember correctly, a school lunch cost $1.50 and milk was $0.25. I could get a lunch with two extra cartons of chocolate milk for $2 a day, every day.
The problem was, I was a pubescent, physically active, growing boy. I was so hungry that I would usually spend up to $4 a day on food on Monday and Tuesday, and be out of lunch money by Wednesday. There were many days in the beginning of my middle school career where I didn’t eat anything at the end of the week because I didn’t have any money.
That is, until I met Alicia.
A Little Help From My Friend
Alicia was a classmate of mine and we became good friends. She soon realized that I wasn’t eating some days and offered to give me money. I told you earlier that my mom didn’t raise me to take handouts, but what’s a hungry sixth grader going to do when someone offers him an opportunity to eat? At first I was reluctant, but she insisted. Eventually I came to rely on Alicia so I could eat at school.
Alicia must have given me somewhere between $1 and $10 a week and never asked me to pay her back. She never asked for anything; she was just happy to help. It’s not like I would have died of starvation if it weren’t for her, but her generosity improved my quality of life exponentially.
Unfortunately, I lost contact with every one of my middle school friends after seventh grade. My mom got remarried and we moved away. I never saw any of my middle school friends again, and most of them have disappeared from my memory completely.
Now that I’m older and I look back on my time in middle school, I realize just how lucky and undeserving I was to have a friend like Alicia. I’m certain I took her generosity for granted and never gave her the credit she deserved. The worst part is I can’t remember her name to try to get in touch with her and thank her after all these years.
Well, last night I got a friend request on facebook from an old middle school friend: Alicia Keys. (that may or may not be her real name)
My Opportunity For Gratitude
Even though I’m more than ten years late, I finally have the opportunity to give Alicia the thanks she deserves.
To Alicia: Thank you. This blog post was for you. You probably didn’t know how much your kindness and generosity meant to me back then, nor how much it means to me now. From the bottom of my heart, all I can say is: thank you.
And as a thank you/happy birthday/happy new baby gift, I sent you a little something. I facebook stalked you and got your email address, so check your email when you get a chance.
To my readers: I encourage you to think back into your past and think of someone who truly made a huge difference in your life. Someone you’ve always wanted to thank but never had the chance. Don’t wait for them to find you like I did; you can find them if you look hard enough.
It’s never too late for “Thank You”
This post was an Editor’s Choice selection at the Totally Money Carnival at The Saved Quarter.