Today my office was live streaming The Boston Marathon. On my way to get a cup of coffee I overheard an interview of a woman who had just won the wheelchair race for the 2nd year in a row. Her name sounded oddly familiar–Tatyana McFadden. When I turned around to look at the screen, I realized that this woman was my food science lab partner freshman year of college.
Suddenly it all came back to me. I remember being exceedingly annoyed with this chick because she chopped produce slower than an arthritis-ridden turtle. None of our dishes ever looked/tasted right and it was never a direct result of my efforts. I resented her lack of culinary instinct. As far as I was concerned, she was an abominable sous-chef to my mastery and the greatest downfall on the path towards my lack-luster dream of being a food scientist. In layman's terms, I was a huge bitch to her.
She would invite me to go watch her basketball games. To which I did the classic disingenuous girl thing of saying 'yes' but not ever intending on following through. At the time, I had no interest in befriending anyone who didn't know how to julienne a carrot.
When I went to look her up today, less than 6 letters into typing her name, the auto-fill finished it for me. So she's obviously important to Google.
After reading her biography, I realized that at the time I knew her she had already competed in the 2004 Athens and 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games...AND WON STUFF. She has an incredible story and a relentless drive to compete in more athletic activities than my sorry-ass has ever seen the likes of. I mean, she just won a gold medal racing at the London Paralympic Games and decided to try her hand at skiing in the Sochi games for fucks sake.
I wish 18 year-old me had learned to accept peoples differences back when I had the opportunity to get to know her better. She may have concocted horrible soufflées, but you know, not everyone can be good at making fluffy, eggy ramekin dishes. It takes all kinds of talents and view points to make the world spin–a concept that has exponentially been engraved into my mind as I have distanced myself from the regimented life of a middle-class suburban child who did community theater, went to a Big 10 University and promptly moved to Wrigleyville after a year of living with her parents.
I hope this story elicits the urge to get to know someone you wouldn't normally approach, or open up to someone who couldn't be more different than you, because you never know who will change your life, even in the smallest way.