My heart was raising, my cheeks hurt from smiling, and my hands were shaking. My dad rang the door bell, and we were greeted by my friend’s mom who smiled and took my blue green sleeping bag. My dad gave me a big hug and said “ I’ll see you in the morning. Have a good time.” I than walked into the biggest kitchen my 8 year old self had ever been in. It was one of those kitchens that you see in HGTV shows. It was so clean, with open cabinets, and probably the nicest and biggest fridge I had ever seen. Still to this day, like 15 years later, the nicest kitchen I’ve ever set foot in. My friends were all siting around a huge round wooden table getting ready to eat make your own ice cream sundaes. I was so excited because this was the first time I had ever had the chance to make my own ice cream sundae. And this family used the good ice cream. I’m talking like Haagen Dazs, and organic sprinkles, and Ghirardelli Hot Fudge. All the good stuff. I thought I was living in a dream.
When I was in the third grade my family moved from Sacramento to Lake Arrowhead, California. We had lived in an area of Sacramento that was not the nicest. But my family always had what we needed. So when I got the news that my family would be moving to Lake Arrowhead it was kind of a surprise. I didn’t really know anything about Lake Arrowhead, but it seemed way nicer than the area where I had known as home for 7 or 8 years. In Sacramento everyone I knew had the same amount of money as my family, or less. It was a good apartment neighborhood that my family was apart of. We all had about the same amount of money, and I didn’t know any better. The apartment complex was not known for a whole lot. I mean the nicest part of the whole area was the fact that the main lawn got watered enough to stay green through out the whole year. But all our neighbors were really nice, and all thats about all you need to know when your 8 years old. I knew that there were lots of people who had a lot more than me, and that there many people who had a lot less than me. But I had no idea how much less I actually had until I started the 3rd grade at a new school in Lake Arrowhead.
Growing up my dad always told me that the reason we only had grape jelly in our house was because it was a poor mans jelly. This statement always stuck with me, and it never really accord to me what he meant by that statement until I was faced with the ice cream sundae situation. To he honest I always preferred strawberry jelly, but I only had it when I was over at my grandparents house. And while this statement seems pretty harsh to tell a 3rd grader, it ultimately taught me one of the greatest life lessons a person can learn.
When I was a kid I thought that it was totally normal to save up your cans and bottles and recycle them at the end of the month in order to get a special treat from McDonalds. This was a huge deal for me and my brother. We loved getting ice cream with our Dad. We did not care whether the ice cream was from Rite Aid or McDonalds, it was just fun to recycle and use that money to get a cold treat with our Dad. The moment I realized that it was not that normal of a routine to recycle for money unless you are homeless, or a broke college student, was at that first sleepover. All of my friends that I had meet while living in Lake Arrowhead, had ice cream in their home freezers. None of them had to wait till the end of the month. Nor did they get to choose between Rite Aid or McDonalds. Their parents just bought ice cream on the regular, like it was bread or milk.
While we were making our sundaes my friends were talking about the cool and fun family adventures they were go to be going on. But all I could do was just sit there and listen. When the party moved downstairs, we all started to set up our sleeping bags, and brush our teeth. “Hey guys lets all sit under the pool table, and talk about the boys in our class” one of my friends suggested. I had never seen a pool table outside of a movie before, and I thought it was super cool that this family just had a pool table that they could play any time they wanted. The house had multiple stories, and the lower level where we would be sleeping was basically a game room. It had a pretty big television, a pool table, and multiple rooms. This house was huge. The kitchen was just the start of how amazing this house keep getting.
When it comes to diversity the average person thinks of racial inequality. However, diversity comes in many different forms. And in my life diversity has come in the form of money and socioeconomic status. Lake Arrowhead is not the biggest and richest of areas when it comes to California standards. That being said it is home to many people’s summer homes. The whole population of Lake Arrowhead actually grows by about 50% in the summer. So you can imagine that it was kind of a shock to be suddenly surrounded by so many people who could afford so much more than me, after living in an area where it was totally acceptable to just play and drink from the same community hose.
So living in a grade jelly only household, really does make you a better person. I have always tried to keep that phrase in mind in any and all situations that I come upon. I know that diversity is not always something that you can see when you first meet someone. And I think that it is important to share these stories to show that everyone is going through or has been going through something that not every would see from the outside.