To be really rich

After just a few minutes with Elena, you sensed that she was really rich. You could see it in the way she treasured the world's great literary works. Or the way she got carried away with Beethoven symphonies. Or the way she had learned to paint, for the sheer joy of it. Or the way she sliced to the heart of an issue with razor-keen intellect. And you could see how liberally she shared her wealth—her exuberance, her love for literature and music, her paintings, her ideas, her wonderful East European brown bread.

Ironically, though, Elena was anything but wealthy in terms of money. When I knew her in graduate school, she and her husband had just come to the United States, refugees from an oppressive regime in their country. They'd had to leave everything behind when they walked across the border—their family, their possessions, their clothing. Even their wedding rings.

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May 8, 2000

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