Sophomore Gabi Alvarado, who enjoys writing, will blog biweekly on the origins of her creativity and artistic vision.
Growing up at Country Day was very difficult for me. Throughout lower and middle school I thought I was surrounded by people who differed greatly from me.
In fifth grade, I remember watching my classmates come to school bragging about getting the new iPhone. Having gone to school with these kids for a few years, I asked my parents when I would get my first phone. My dad said that when I could afford to buy and keep up a phone, I would be able to buy one myself. In sixth grade, I had no problem with this. After all, I understood where he came from.
My dad grew up in East LA with two immigrant parents. He is the youngest of four siblings and the only male. His father was continually sick and in the hospital, so his oldest sister took on a parental role.
His family was poor, and he and his sisters were the first to go to college. They have all been successful in their respective fields, but they came by this success only through hard work and no breaks. So that’s what my dad was thinking when he told me I’d have to pay for my phone – and many other things I wanted.
My dad went to a public high school that happened to be in a pretty rich neighborhood, so he has had the experience of being around people who have much more than he. Whenever I came home complaining about kids bragging, he told me that there would always be both someone who had more than me and someone who had less than me. But it was still hard to grow up around people who had iPhones and laptops when I didn’t.
Now, I have a smartphone. I saved up about $100 and earned $250 working at a summer camp last summer, and I ordered a smartphone online for $200: the Moto G4. I’ve fought with my dad multiple times about his buying me a phone, and I’ve been quite bitter about it. I guess at this point I acknowledge where he comes from and accept that, although my parents can afford to buy me a phone, there are other lessons my dad wants me to learn.
Through the years I’ve come to terms with the fact that we aren’t that different from each other. No matter where we come from, we all attend Country Day – that means we have great privilege when it comes to getting a good education and being accepted into a great university.
Meeting someone who has something in common with you in a place where everyone seems distant is a blessing. The first two stanzas of this poem reflect one such friendship I have here.
The third and fourth stanzas are about someone who has felt the alienation that comes with being surrounded by people who differ enormously from herself. She is not accustomed to such an environment and doesn’t want to stay here. I think she feels made fun of for her background, though she probably is not. Through her lens the students here must seem ridiculous. And, in some ways, I agree with her. After all, growing up here was really very difficult.
But one thing I have learned at this school is that in order to benefit fully from all Country Day has to offer, I have to put aside the differences between my classmates and me.
In “A New Day,” I address both of these people with knowledge of their experiences. But I also tell myself these things. Sometimes the only way to move on is to forgive and forget. At Country Day, sometimes forgetting differences allows growth.
A New Day
Forgive me, son.
I did not mean to break you down.
We are so flawed;
I love you how I can.
Forgive the others for their ignorance.
Forgive their quick judgement.
Forgive them; you will grow to love.
Forget, dear child.
Their chants amid the light of day mean nothing.
The pain of divorce is felt everywhere;
Your strength can overcome the ignorance here.
Forget how they look at you.
Forget their pitying stares.
Forget your isolation.
Live the new day.
—By Gabi Alvarado