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Warm Inside & Out

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Covering my bed is perhaps one of the ugliest blankets you have ever seen. It’s supposed to resemble a warm, fleece throw but in reality? It’s just a tie-dyed mess of sloppy handwriting, random taco doodles, and a sailor-knotted design circling the rectangular perimeter. Looking at it, you would bluntly wonder as to why a neat freak such as myself, would ever even imagine placing this contraption on her bed- of all places. Yes, this is the girl who has a color-coded closet, hospital corners folded into the sides of her cot, and drawers more organized then even Ikea could dream up. This blanket was created with the intentions of keeping me warm without the heat of Floridian sun when I moved to Westchester. I’d always thought that the purpose of this bedspread was literal- to keep me from freezing my toes off when the weather dropped to the negatives. Little did I know that it would do more to keep my spirits warm, rather than my pinkies.
I received this blanket on my last day of middle school- June 15th, 2010. It was the last period of my eighth grade year (top of the food chain at last!) at Three Oaks Middle and the air was as bittersweet as a ripened grapefruit: this was the last day I would spend eating lunch in the wet-mop smelling cafeteria, sporting the dreaded (but secretly adored) school dress code of polos tucked into khaki shorts with a belt, and being in my favorite class. This class, Chamber Choir, was taught by Mr. Knecht and contained some of my most favorite people in the world. The thought of leaving them, along with all my other friends and familiar teachers saddened me. BUT! On the other hand, it was almost summer: a break from a hardworking year and a whole new adventure in high school! Snapping my mind back into the moment, I clutched the soft blue and green fabric in my hand and embraced every scrawled sentence scribed into it. . . This, I realized, was one of the most thoughtful gifts I would ever receive.
I guess I should have known something was up when for two weeks eager whispers would hush when I sat down at a table. “Hey guys, what’s up?” I would say casually. They would stutter and exchange nervous glances for the right explanation and as gullible as ever, I would believe it. Even my teachers and friends outside of the music program begin to ask me if I had received anything special lately, an obvious hint to most likely anyone BUT me. . . I was just completely confused. The days began to cycle faster and faster until it was the last period. Of my last day. Of my last year. I walked into the chorus building, tossed my backpack on the floor and began the warm-up exercises, only to find fifty kids staring at me. And myself staring right back. “Uhhhhhhhhmmmm, shouldn’t we be warming up?” I questioned. They said nothing. Then out of nowhere, Alyssa Ingentio, one of my best friends, pulled out the blanket, and shoved it into my arms. My friends gave me a second to let it all soak through while I stared at this huge heap of love. I cried soft tears of appreciation and I was “you’re-welcomed” with a gigantic group hug and the ironically obvious rounds of “I can’t believe she never figured it out!”
A fleece throw might not sound like much to you, but through the twenty-something hour drive from Florida to New York (who honestly can keep track of THAT LONG of a car ride?), that blanket sat on my lap. I came to know every single squiggle, Sharpie-d note, and idiotic joke written on that piece of cloth. My mother and father would look at me laughing hysterically in the back seat at “Call me llama cause you don’t want no drama mama!” and smile. They found it amusing to see that the connections I made with my friends could still make me grin while I was a thousand miles away. Although the marker-ed notes are fading, the knots are coming undone and the stone heart has come off, that blanket has made me smile through every bad hair day, laugh at every wrong answer and finally see how lucky I am to have such wonderful friends.





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