At seven years old, my parents sat me down on our antique white couch, tears in their eyes. “William, Susan,” they said, addressing my brother and me; “we’re getting a divorce.”
For the past ten years, this one announcement has spun my life to an immeasurable degree. My father was determined to stay with us, but after an attempt to stay in the house did not fare well, he was forced to move out to nearby Chicago. By the time I entered middle school, he had moved back, into an apartment down the street; but by high school, he lived with my then-new stepmother, a two-hour plane ride away in the great borough of Manhattan, New York City—and an entirely new world.
And so my two homes, and ...view middle of the document...
I was taken to a service at every church in town by parents who pitied me for my lack of religious salvation, and even once told my parents were “baby killers” because they supported Al Gore. But I was also shown great kindness—people always smiled on the streets and offered money to the poor. Humanitarian efforts, though nearly always in the interest of a higher being, were frequent and often successful. Teachers and other adults were friendly, supportive and nearly always forgiving.
Manhattan, on the other hand, was a center for cultural enrichment. Daily trips to museums, operas, musicals and educational exhibits formed primarily my appreciation for the arts and for the diversity of America. Parks, piers and monuments shaped my love of nature and architecture. Independence and a need for adventure were constantly thriving in young people, and opportunities for activities were frequent and always exciting. The necessity of molding one’s own ideals by making one’s own mistakes inspired and fueled me in my daily work. Passion fueled all. But at the same time, people were cold—it was a competitive society. Poverty was prevalent, and aid, though attempted, was never enough.
Because of this dual life, I have been forced to live and breathe and therefore been made able to identify the best, and the worst, of both worlds. I tried to take the kindness of the Christian spirit that Wheaton often identified with, without forgetting the cosmopolitan culture of the city; I tried to take the academic rigor and intensive life structure prevalent in Wheaton without forgetting the freedom and the artistic nature that dominates the city. And so, I resolved, I would try to better each place as each place had bettered me—in Wheaton, especially, as I began to tutor the international students at my school as they attempted to learn the English Language.
This daily tutoring grew more and more important to me—I began...