How Much To Go To Culinary School Do You Keep Up With Old Friends?

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Do You Keep Up With Old Friends?

Last week at noon I received a phone call from an old friend I hadn’t spoken to in months. The caller ID read “George” in big letters and I smiled and quickly picked up the phone. Greeting George with a loud and cheerful “how are you”? George responded with equal interest.

It all started back in 1982, when I was in culinary school in Baltimore Maryland. It was there that I met George, 9 years older than me, and we became good friends. George was from Baltimore and had just been laid off from a paid job in the city. Trying to provide for her family with a young child at the time, she decided to go back to school and become a chef.

Our conversation went as smoothly as if we had been talking every day for the past five years. Laughing and cutting as always we made sure to push each other every now and then when we got the chance. Then, in the middle of the conversation, George told me to hang up, what I heard on the phone was a strange voice greeting me. I asked, “Who is this?” I heard George chuckle as I thought this was one of his lies. But then…

To my surprise, a voice on the other end said, “Brian, this is Isaiah, do you remember me?” “Of course I remember”, I said immediately “where did you live”? Isaiah went on to tell me that he met George at the gas station and when he asked me George called me right away and I called him. This was a real blast from my old life. It was the moment I knew I had to write. Let me explain…

In 1982 when I started my first year of culinary school, I was this little kid who felt like a fish out of water. When I left my home in DC, only 50 miles or so away, I felt like I was so far away. Within the first week of school, a new student came in from the streets and I could see that he was rough around the edges. He was a little black kid about my age and he had a smile and a sense of humor that could make a room laugh. Like yesterday, I remember Isaiah, coming to class that day and he immediately moved to me. I was the only black kid in the class and this is where he found his comfort zone. We immediately hit it off and became best friends. Then one day Isaiah did not come to school. Several days, then weeks went by and there was no sign of him. With no way to contact him, I can only hope for the best.

30 years later, this is how the conversation went. Yesaya told me on the phone that he was kicked out of school because of his poor grades and inability to pay for his education. He dropped out of school, got a job as a cook and soon drugs caught up with him. He told me that he had been banished for several years until something happened and he had a death wish. Isaiah went on to tell me that he has now been sober for 20 plus years and is a cook at a nursing home in Baltimore. He said his wife is protecting him and he is living a clean and fulfilling life.

At the end of the call, Isaiah said that he always loved me and that I was his only friend during school. We reminisced about how much alcohol and partying we used to do and how he would stay up all night in my basement. We talked about one Christmas vacation that I brought Isaiah back to DC to visit my family. He told me that he has never forgotten that time and he had never felt so loved by a family in his life.

When I hung up, I realized that I was the mentor of a black kid who was more shy and insecure than me. I believe that Isaiah was placed in my life at that time to help me become stronger and more confident as a person. In many ways during our conversation, I heard Isaiah thank me for being his friend. The truth is that Isaiah made me a better and stronger person and helped me to be the person I am today.

Sometimes as we go through life, we don’t realize the growth that is happening in the background. I encourage you not to put off your journey, and trust each day. There are some things in life that we don’t have to understand at that time. Believe in your path and one day, it will make sense. The selection is in.

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