So today I got to hang out with both my family and my friend Anna Marie. It was delightful on both counts. My family and I sat outside and enjoyed the springtime green-and-flowers woods around the house, ate steak ribs and delicious french bread. Anna Marie and I sat around in PJs and ribbed each other and talked plotlines and books while I tried to push my name up the list to borrow the latest Holly Black novel. (Don't worry folks, she remained unmoved to my pleas ^_^)
When it was time to leave, we walked to our vehicles, and someone called my name. Names. Both of them. As in, "Lacey Jenkins?"
Why is it that I never recognize people first? I can't imagine how this person recognized me, we hadn't seen each other for twelve years. Twelve years, my dovies, it's quite a stretch. Especially when, for us, twelve years is the difference between a young child and an adult. Grr. Anyway.
Stop giving me those looks. I just don't recognize people from across parking lots!! Not even my own brother, actually. (Funny story, see many blogs back for it)
We had an enjoyable chat, when suddenly she remembered some things that she had done as a kid--practical jokes--and couldn't quite believe her memory. She wondered aloud how she could have done such things, since she was not a mean kid. The more she remembered, the more I, regrettably, began to remember too. It solved some lingering questions about how the clay-dough had gotten onto my backback and stuff.
I'm sad she remembered. We are both different people now, and it's a shame to let what a person did as a kid suddenly influence a surprise reunion so thoroughly.
The truth is, I was bullied all through middle school and junior high. Actually, I was a perpetual victim until about tenth grade. I never had any special friend who would be by my side and stick up for me. I didn't make friends. And a friend's the only defense you could have against other kids.
Since coming back to Covington, I've had several run-ins with people who used to fancy themselves the bane of my existence. One girl saw me at the library and apologized for her best friend raiding my locker and stealing all of my stuff except books. One girl still won't look me in the eye during our education class. And on and on down the list of girls; people apologizing for seeing me as a thing, and not another kid with feelings.
I'm so conflicted about what to feel and think, I really don't know what way is up. Yes, I was a victim for years. The convenient punching bag, who didn't know what to say in return. Even now I operate as the butt of a lot of teasing in our group, and I enjoy being the center of attention when I choose to be. It's not malicious anymore.
I wouldn't even be bothered or upset by these memories so much if these nice girls didn't continue to approach me and apologize for their friends' and theirs behavior. Really. Because I'm not that girl anymore. No one treats me badly and escapes regretting it. I took that anger and developed a vicious streak a mile wide--ask my boyfriend ^_^. It's very protective, and served me well in college.
To these people, I would ask, What do you want me to say? What could I say that would be the right thing, what could I do to make you feel better about what happened when we were too young and too stupid for words?
*holds out hands, palms up* I got nothin, folks. I've never known what to say to people who would hurt me, except to move on and try to develop a working relationship apart from the past. Unless this is someone within the small circle of my friends, I don't consider it really worth my time to bother with. My friends answer for their actions, to me and others. But what do you say to someone who was never your friend, and you never knew them?
I can't really say I appreciate the apologies, because they bring back a lot of things I was glad to forget. And most of the time, the apology is not about me, and how I am, so much as it is about them wanting to say, "Hey, this has bothered me. Sometimes I can't sleep at night and I remember it." I don't want to be anyone's regret. If it bothers you, then listen: have a few conversations with me about banalities. It'll make you feel better to have something to replace the memories with. I don't mind, either.
Truthfully, I have people to apologize to, as well. Most of them guys. The ones I learned my people skills on. We all hurt people when we were learning. Hah. Bet you never expected that from the perpetual victim, eh? Well, wonders never cease, do they? See, I'm human too.