My Friend Dante
Through the good, the bad, and the just plain ugly my friend Dante has been my succor. He has offered me solace and guidance through my years in high school and always gave me the encouragement I needed to reach my goals. Before going any further, I feel obligated to mention that Dante is not a kid down the street, someone I met at school, or even a figment of my imagination. Rather, we were introduced when my Nonno—my grandfather—began reading me The Divine Comedy when I was just a little girl.
“Sit on my lap, Bambolina, we’ll read Dante’s story,” Nonno would say in his thick Sicilian accent. Together we followed Dante’s journey through Inferno and Purgatorio. This main portion of Dante’s pilgrimage required him to have unwavering fortitude in order to reach his ultimate destination—Paradiso.
It wasn’t until I contended with my own internal struggles that I realized the relationship Dante and I had. During my sophomore year, my once mundane family circumstances transformed into a sea of turmoil and tension. My divorced parents each decided to remarry. Doctors changed my younger brother’s mental diagnosis from laziness to ADHD. On top of it all I was balancing over thirty hours of working a week with school. This enormity of stress is the reason I dubbed my sophomore year, “My Inferno.”
Inferno tells the story of Dante’s allegorical journey through the circles of Hell until he reaches the end—Lucifer. Similar to Dante, I was faced with a considerable amount of hapless situations until I hit rock bottom. In English, the last line of Inferno reads, “And we came out again to see the stars.” This line always gave me the notion that regardless of the obstacles in my path, I must always aspire for bigger and brighter things.
Thanks to Dante, aspiring is exactly what I have been doing. I consider my last two years of high school to be representative of Dante’s climb up Mount Purgatorio. Learning from mistakes is a prominent theme in this leg of Dante’s journey. I have used the knowledge I’ve acquired through difficult experiences to put myself in a place of placidity. Exercise and being active is a huge contributing factor to my ambition. Yoga relaxes the day’s stress away and kickboxing allows me to vent my frustrations. Additionally, I have discovered my love for science and take pride in my high marks in this area.
Purgatorio is the shortest volume of The Divine Comedy, though in my life it will be the longest. I will eventually reach my version of Paradiso when I am able to apply knowledge I’ve attained from your school to researching medical advances that will save lives, or helping children’s hospitals with charitable care.
I have learned from Dante and my Nonno that if I continue to aspire to le stelle—the stars—I will surpass any difficulty where I would find myself in Inferno. And for that lesson, I am forever indebted to my friend, Dante.