It's 3:15 am on Monday morning. I'm sitting in my daughter's room trying to soothe her to sleep while she's cutting her incisors and, boy, this is rough. Her wails are heartbreaking and the time it takes for a partial dose of Acetaminophen to kick in is the worst.
That's alright though - I couldn't sleep anyway. As I was drifting off earlier, a tiny seed of a memory popped into my head.
The summer before 4th grade I made friends with a girl who was a year younger than I. We played EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. We'd set up a "candy store" in her mom's garage and wait eagerly all day for customers who didn't exist to stop by to buy our overpriced Tootsie Pops. Or on the less pleasant days, we'd spend hours on her Sony PlayStation dominating the world of Sonic the Hedgehog. We played tether ball for hours. We'd even go old school and play with Barbies. Hey, it was just the two of us - who was going to judge?!
I can't remember much about this little girl, not her hair color or her name (although her first might have been Elizabeth?). What I keep returning to is that the first day of school, she excitedly ran up to me and hugged me because, hey, when you see your best friend on the first day of school it's pretty thrilling. I pushed her away and pretended I didn't know her, a tall feat for someone growing up in a town of 600 people. I spent every recess ignoring her and if I did turn my attentions on her, it was only to mock her.
I'm pretty sure they moved at some point over the next few years. That little girl who is now a fully grown woman most likely doesn't remember me. If she does it's probably a blip on her radar - a tiny memory of an amazing summer and a cold fall. With that said, if that woman ever reads this and recognizes a variation of this story, I'm sorry. I'm sorry I was so horrible to you. I'm sorry that I thought a grade in school made all the difference. I'm sorry I missed an opportunity to be a friend to you. I'm sorry I was a fourth grade asshole. I was in a weird place of already being unpopular in my youth and wanting to not damage my "reputation" further by hanging out with a younger kid.
I repeat: I was a fourth grade asshole.