Fresh out of college, with my biology and education degree, I got my first real job: 7th grade science teacher. I was ECSTATIC.
Not just any job, but an actual job in my field. Little did I know how much that year would change my life.
I had 6 classes, each class separated by ability: in other words, a school’s practice of separating students into different classes, based on their academic ranking. [Academic ability grouping, as it’s called.]
Tony was in the highest group [the ‘smart’ group]. A class clown, wise ass, popular, charming, trouble maker– and he hated me. I can’t recall any specific incidences. But I do recall giving him after school detention. Frequently.
I got engaged that spring and at the end of the school year, I moved to DC.
On the last day of school, I vividly recall sitting in my empty classroom and crying. It had been a great year. I had become close to many students, most of who were in Tony’s group. I would miss them all. Notably, Tony’s group.
Years passed and one of my students invited me to their high school graduation. It was a 9 hour drive but I very much wanted to check up on my “kids.”
So I went. I was amazed at how they’d grown. I saw Tony after the graduation ceremony. He and several other boys apologized to me for their disrespectful behavior that 7th grade year. It made me feel good knowing they were regretful. My kids had grown up.
More years passed. I joined Facebook and within the first year, I had tracked down many of my former students, including Tony. We loosely kept in touch via FB status updates. Tony’s FB page was filled with pictures of he and his buddies partying and drinking, acting… well, their age.
More time passed…
I caught up with Tony again recently. We found each other again online. He told me how he had met a beautiful woman. He sounded different. Serious. Mature. Afraid to lose this gem he had been so lucky to find.
We briefly updated each other on our lives. I told of him of my recent breakup, and he told me about her. She was divorced, had children. His days of wild parties and drinking were now behind him. I was amazed at the transformation, clearly brought about by this woman. He told me he was afraid of failing her. “I am totally happy with her,” he wrote. “And I hope I can make her as happy I am. She is a game changer.”
I was amazed at his articulation of his feeling for her. His adoration of this woman. In a world of promiscuity, cheating and adultery, here this young man of only 29 had discovered his forever love it had seemed. He was aware of what he had found in her, and was afraid to lose her.
When I asked him what made her a game changer, he replied, “She is special in far too many ways for me to even begin to list. She makes me feel great, every single day, every time I am with her, even when I receive a text from her. She is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.”
That was it, it seemed. It’s not the most perfect or the hottest person you fall in love with. It’s the person whose inner beauty transforms you. The person that makes you feel the most beautiful inside, who brings out the best in you.
And that is what changes everything.