I walked the halls of my high school back in the 80’s, going from one class to another, passing by all kinds of friends and acquaintances saying “Hi!” and smiling. Regardless of who they were, where they came from, what they did and how they acted, socializing was my thing during the spare moments I had between classes. Everyone’s got their “thing” that makes them feel happy, and mine was meeting and getting to know different people. I wondered what kind of person resided under the exterior character I was shown daily. Were there similarities? Major differences? Whenever I volleyed a smile to someone, I felt fortunate receiving smiles back.
Those smiles energized me. Each one was a little blessing, especially when smiles were returned from students who didn’t know me. The smile carried a genuine feeling of kindness across halls cluttered daily with the standard emotional see-sawing soap operatic performances found in teenage normalcy. So a smile that was directed to me was savored. I tucked each one away, like a little present, in my mental Rolodex and my heart’s emotional bank. One certain guy never had hardship in offering a gift-wrapped smile: Omar Sotelo.
In crossing paths I’d find that even with his quiet nature, and only seconds to spare while pacing his way down the halls to his next class, he’d find a way to deliver a positive vibe or word that wished me a great day. Omar naturally came with a calm, fun, kind and warm energy, and because of that I considered him to be one of the cool people I looked forward to saying “Hello” to in the halls. And that’s a pretty big deal, considering high school.
What do I mean?
In high school, people you don’t know don’t have to say “Boo” to you in the halls. It’s a social mini-city, exhibiting a new kind of independence for students. They have their place to go, their topic to talk about, and their friends to join in on the gossip du jour. They don’t have to stop and look at you, and they certainly don’t have to have a conversation with you. They could walk on by, leaving you solo with just a slight breeze that, in its own way, unconsciously echoed, “I won’t remember you”.
On the flipside, they could say mean things to you, or condescend to you. They could talk about you in judgment. They could purposefully bump into you, throw things at you, tape things to you, instigate a fight with you or intentionally ignore you. High school, I know, could be the hardest time for teens, depending upon who interacts with you and how you handle them. With tremendous thanks, Omar never gave of any of those negative responses. He was (and still is) the kind of genuine person who exemplifies the meaning of friend.
Proverbs 18:24 (NKJV) “A man who has friends must himself be friendly, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”
Omar Sotelo is most definitely my friend. I’m honored to call him one. When I met with Omar, we simply picked up right where we left off in high school, but with both of us now happily married to wonderful spouses and inheriting the title of parent. Once upon a time, our lives were centered on getting our grades, having fun with friends, figuring ourselves out, being a good kid at home and graduating to one day become somebody. And now, a couple of decades later, we’ve happily discovered that we’ve pretty much remained the same “somebody” that we used to be, only now we’re positively enhanced through the families we’ve created, and we maintain our structure of values that we hold dear.
If there is someone from whom I would want to gain an opinion, perspective, or advice from on how to get from A to Z when life hands me a curve ball, he’s the kind of friend I’d lean on. His approach comes served with honesty, thoughtfulness, and awareness, and he sprinkles comedy and wisdom around it, making the metaphoric meal you’ve digested a fairly nutritious and much appreciated one.
Luke 6:45 (NKJV) “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good…”
Omar reflects a certain kind of honor and value that we can only find in a few good men. And, on that note -
I’m a former Marine infantryman. I was a part of Desert Shield/Desert Storm.
Omar is, in fact, one of the few and the proud (Semper Fi, do or die. Oooo – rah!) who served in the United States Marine Corps. After Desert Storm he met his lovely wife, Deana, at a college party in Indiana.
I was invited by my roommate, and she was invited by my roommate’s girlfriend. Amusingly enough, both of us were reluctant to attend. We’ll be married for 17 years on December 14th, 2011.
His values about family, life, and making smart decisions are what magnetically pulled me to contact him to be our panelist for The Dating GPS™. He holds strong values as a Christian man, husband and father, and the manner in which he shares his beliefs has always been in the same demeanor as how I remembered him back at school in Skokie, IL: kind, thoughtful, respectful and good-hearted.
Omar resides in West Lafayette, Indiana and he is a certified massage therapist (CMT). He’s built a lovely family with Deana and an even greater foundation in love, respect and making smart decisions, especially during the tough times life can unexpectedly hand.
Omar has a special way of getting his points across without having to push any personal agenda, nor judging someone for not thinking in the same light as he or anyone else would.
When I talked to Omar about the panelist position, he showed a great interest in our project. To him it was not only a fun challenge to be one of our panelists, but he also felt eager to share a perspective worth reading.
I’m hoping that those who read the [Dating GPS™ ] book can be made aware of the varying thoughts on dating and examine their own approaches and beliefs ….
With Omar’s joy in life, respect for (and service to) the military, creative approach in overcoming obstacles and his tenacious will to press forward, is like a Captain America of sorts.
You’ll see my good friend featured in our Guys section sharing a father figure’s perspective.
[Photos: Omar Sotelo and USMC]