Elena

You just never know about people... until you get to know them. Sometimes, we never look deeper to get to know them. We don't take the time to talk and know their hearts. Without the trust of a friend that got to know them, why would they share their problems with us?

I had dinner with a friend last night. We haven't had a chance to spend too much time, one-on-one. Although I knew of one major event that happened in her life when she was just a baby, I only knew snippets about her life from our random drive-by interactions at meet ups and events. In fact, at a recent conference, I walked right past her at least three times. I smiled politely at her as I did, but not even realizing it wasn't some random stranger, but a person I called friend!

In my defense, she changed her hair color and style, and I'm pretty sure she's a slimmer version of the person I knew prior to that day. I stopped her at the end of the day to compliment her on her outfit.

"I'm sorry, I don't know your name but I wanted to tell you that your outfit is stunning! I'm Shooo... HOLY SHIT, ALI??"

Last night, I found out that she and I had a mutual friend performing in a play. I ended up sitting with her and another friend that had come along as my "plus one". After the show, my guest had to get back to her baby. I love hanging out in that part of San Diego, so I suggested Ali and I head over to a restaurant that I know of. We sipped some sage infused water and ate tots and fries while we chatted about recent happenings.

In catching up on life, we started talking about our childhoods. It's amazing to me how any of us survived some of our parents' eff ups. Who gave those people permission to raise humans, anyway? Lordy... The things she had gone through just blew me away. I kept looking across the table shaking my head and thinking, "I had no idea!" But why would I? I hadn't really taken the time to sit and listen to her.

To get to know her heart.

I got to thinking about a girl I knew in high school. I only casually knew her, though. I didn't know anything about her other than that her younger sister was besties with a girl I knew. I guessed that she was smart based on the classes she was taking. I also assumed she had a perfect life because of her wardrobe. Hey, it was high school. We judge books by covers at that age.

One morning, a carload of us went to grab some McBreakfast before school. A kind and perky female voice took our order. As we came around the drive and up to the window to pay, I saw that it was Elena. She popped up and gave us an even brighter smile than she had before recognizing us as her school mates. We jibber jabbered a bit and then we were off with our meals. I remember turning back, seeing her wave with a happy smile. Like maybe chatting with us brightened her morning.

Some time after that... it might have been on the ride back to school or maybe even weeks later... I found out that Elena's dad had died. She worked to help around the house and save money to buy the cute clothes that I always saw her wearing.

The wardrobe that I was jealous of.

I felt so silly for thinking that she had it so easy and that there was some fantasy Daddy at her house dolling out dollars to keep his little princess in the best outfits. I was jealous of her for that dad... the one that died... the one that she probably cried into her pillow for.

Most times, I can nail what people are about and what their intentions seem to be based on their actions. My accuracy sometimes scares me. I think it's because now I try to get to know people better before making any ridiculous assumptions like I did with Elena. Sometimes, people that come off as friends at first show themselves to be untrustworthy. Their smiles, once beaming, now crooked.

And others who I had not had the time to get to know, for whatever reasons, eventually reveal themselves to be true gems.

There are so many gems in our lives yet to be discovered. What treasures are yet to be revealed? One can only imagine the riches.

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