By Christina Quarles
To the simple naked eye, windows are merely glass panes or sashes that let in a desired amount of air or light. But for me windows have been the frames of which I have viewed, learned from, and sometimes hidden from the beautifully unpredictable, yet frightening mosaic of life. When I was a young girl I would often sneak into my parent’s bedroom, in our apartment on the second floor, sit on their desk and peer out of the window. I would secretly watch the young boys below play basketball, tag, and other games in their backyard. I wondered why I was forbidden to play outside and I envied their freedom. When I got a pair of kid’s binoculars for Christmas one year, watching the boy’s next door soon became a spy game my younger sister and I would play. Ever so often the boys would look up and we would quickly duck down, and they would only see the blinds swaying back and forth, knowing someone was watching but not who. As I grew older I realized my parents kept me inside because they were protecting and keeping me naive from the environment of which I was surrounded by. But they could only protect me for so long. My naivety left me when I one day looked out of the window and finally saw beyond and much more than the boys playing next door. I saw gang life and violence. I saw teen pregnancy and drug abuse. I saw poverty and an aching struggling neighborhood, stepping on each other in hopes to climb up. I saw my community for what it truly was, a shattered American Dream. I saw the ugly truth, all through my window.
Years later, my family moved into a middle class neighborhood and my parents eventually divorced. When I was 16 my mother unfortunately was laid off from work. When she lost her job she soon afterwards lost apt, then the majority of her custody over my sister and me, and then temporarily lost her way. My sister and I lived with our father in our apartment and my mother lived in a group home downtown. On the weekends she would pick us up and we would spend the night with her in various hotels/motels around Los Angeles. I remember sitting on the bus late one night with my mother and glaring out the window. The motionless blurry streetlights passed us by, as the blocks rolled on. I wondered how much harder things would get before they got better for my mother, and how it would all affect me. 18 months later my mother got the motivation to pry open her own window and stand once again on her own two feet. She got a new job and her own apartment.
Nowadays, when I am sitting in my campus apt at the University of California, Riverside, I like to stand and gaze out of my living room window. I am four flights up and can see the sun setting across the trees and fields of the campus. I like to think and reflect back on the long journey it took for me to get here and how I had so much help along the way. So many people have contributed to helping me accomplish all of my successes. I am a first generation honors college student.
I was able to accomplish this because I had both of my parents encouraging and providing for me. I had Mends who motivated and competed with me; and I even had strangers blessing me with their love and kindness along the way. One of those kind groups of strangers was the Dillon Henry Family. Their act of kindness has and continues to open up many windows of opportunities for me as well as broaden my horizons. I believe it is my turn to give back and actively make a difference in other people’s lives and communities. “To whom much is given, much is required” (Luke 12:48). Thanks to the Dillon Family sponsoring me to volunteer abroad in Thailand for four weeks during the summer I can now be a blessing in someone’s life as they have been in mine. For many years now I have passively watched my community stagger, and at some moments hidden from it behind double sided windows. I am ready to make a positive difference in my community and others. My accomplishments are proof of how one small act of kindness makes the world to someone else.