|Meet up with classmates in Taiwan in 2010. I'm the one with sunglasses on my head!|
Melissa was an outgoing girl with great leadership skills. She was charming, intelligent, and the daughter of a doctor. With such advantages and based on the law of attraction, she naturally hung out with the popular group of glamorous girls who also shared upper-class characteristics. To say that during our college career, Melissa and I never once spoke to each other sums it up––I was a loser.
Being the first one in class to immigrate to the United States, I missed out all of the weekend get-together's and class reunions. My classmates were kind enough to fill me in with event photos so that even though I wasn't physically present, I could still share the joy of visiting with old friends.
Four years ago, I got a message from Melissa on Facebook telling me that she was on a business trip to Virginia and thought she'd say hi. With the brief message, she left the phone number to her hotel room.
What do you do when an old classmate, whom you'd never once spoken with, left you such message? I didn't want to be rude, so I picked up the phone and called to talk to Melissa for the first time––17 years after I'd heard her self-introduction at the freshman orientation.
Melissa was a successful business woman who co-owned an interior decor supply company with her husband. They had a factory in China, and exported finished products solely to American consumers. "You Americans are our clothes-food-parents," Melissa said (as in our purchasing powers keep those Chinese suppliers in business––fattening their bellies and clothing them in designers outfits). I laughed at the irony of seeing panhandlers every day in the street corners of my city.
The conversation mostly centered on her glorious life as a highly accomplished career woman in the competitive world of international trade. Melissa was extremely proud of her achievements and so was I. I was honored to be associated with a head-honcho like Melissa––after all, the social status of a loser hasn't really changed that much for me since school days.
Melissa and her husband had a baby girl who was raised by Melissa's mother in Taipei, while the couple lived in Hong Kong. "We're so busy, we don't have time for her," she explained. "At least she's not growing up with a stranger." I didn't know how to respond to that, so I said nothing. I wondered how Melissa did it––to see her child, she needed a passport and a plane ticket. I just couldn't fathom that kind of lifestyle.
The conversation concluded in the agreement that she'd stop by Utah for a visit next time she came to the U.S....I never really thought she meant it.
A year after the phone call, Melissa visited me in Utah. I was intimidated because I felt extremely inferior in her presence. This also happened to be the time when my family was in the process of selling our house: We packed up boxes of stuff to take to the storage; we painted the walls; we had a house full of mess. Melissa was the kind of woman who stayed at five-star hotels when she traveled, and now I was providing her a thrift-store-bought twin bed with a cardboard box as a nightstand in an absolutely empty room (with a half-finished paint job on the walls).
Fortunately, Melissa was forgiving.
During the week of Melissa's stay, I slowly crawled out of my loser status––not because I was now a closer friend with a popular girl, but because I realized that she wasn't really as untouchable as I'd always thought she was. In other words, she wasn't the type of person whom I'd virtually place on a pedestal now––I've met other really amazing people since college.
Interesting how an attitude change made such a difference.
*Name has been changed for privacy.Allison Merrill
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