The nervous 6th grader looked for a spot to hide. He looked at an empty parking lot with benches. He was the first person here and he felt lost. He spied a bench in the very corner of the lot and headed there. He sat down and started to miss his old friends. Deep down he was angry for having to move to this new school, but he understood why he needed to move. He saw a boy being dropped off in the distance. The boy had a flat top haircut and braces and started to walk through the empty lot. He saw the new kid with the corner of his eye and changed directions toward the boy. The new 6th grader froze and anticipated awkward conversation.
“You new here?”
“I’m a 5th grader. I’m ___.”
The 6th grader reached out to shake his hand. The 5th grader laughed.
“Why do you shake hands? Are we having a business meeting? Are we adults?”
The 6th grader pulled his hand back and laughed outloud.
____ saw some of his friends walking through the lot. “Hey….my friends are here. See you later.”
Everyday this happened. The 5th grader would talk to the 6th grader before his own friends showed up. It made him feel at ease. A friend. And over time, the nervous 6th grader was not nervous anymore. He had his own friends, but was always thankful for the boy with the braces. He waved to him every day when he walked by.
5 years later, he still knew that boy. But things were much different. The 6th grader was now a spikey-haired junior in high school. The 5th grader was now a bald-headed sophomore at the same high school. There were no more waves. No more friendliness. The spikey-haired junior would catch him in the hallway on the way to class.
“Hey ___. How’s it goin’?”
He was met with silence and just glaring looks. The sophomore was angry. He said nothing and kept walking to class.
The junior decided to take a different route to class from now on. But, he still crossed paths with the angry sophomore now and again. And every chance meeting ended the same…with silence and a glaring look. He had no idea why that boy was angry with him. Was it something he said? Or did?
Three months later, he decided to ask the angry sophomore about this unknown and misdirected anger.
“Hey man…is everything ok?
The braced boy was silent and finally said, “Yeah…why? You wanna box?”
The spikey-haired boy was surprised. “Box? Why would I want to fight? I’m just asking you if everything is ok?”
The bald braced boy walked away….his walk had changed. It was defiant and rebellious.
That was 20 years ago.
“Baby, let’s go in here…I want a sundae.”
My daughter laughed and tried to pull me towards a toy shop.
“Just five minutes, just let me get this sundae.”
I stood in line and grabbed a sundae that was overflowing with caramel. I walked out of the shop and made my way down the strip mall leaving a trail of dripping caramel whenever I stepped. I took a bite and whip cream splashed onto my face. While wiping my face from this embarrassment, I saw a man…with a walk. A defiant and rebellious walk. I knew that walk anywhere. His face was still angry. But, this time he walked with two children. Two very happy children. We caught eyes and I knew who I was looking at. He looked away and continued his angry walk pass the ice cream shop. Did he recognize me? And if he did, why was he still angry?
It made me think. When are we “too old” for certain feelings or resentments? That 5th grader was a happy boy. He grew up to be an angry sophomore. And apparently an angry father of two kids. Is this a grudge that has developed over twenty years? Or is this a different anger? And is that same spikey-haired boy the object of his anger and resentment? I thought about if I felt the same type of grudge or animosity about anyone in my past. And I discovered a few. I laughed to myself and tried to convince myself that it was petty. And that I was too “grown-up” to be angry about high school issues. But, sometimes it’s not that easy. We feel pain and hurt. That pain and hurt can leave a scar that feels permanent. There are simply things that we cannot forgive and let go. Will we ever “grow” out of this resentment? Growing up comes unexpectedly. For periods of our lives, we gain interests in hobbies and loves. You ever see old pictures of yourself and think:
“Why did I ever wear that? I thought that was cool?”
We grow up and discover new things. But, sadly certain parts of us do not grow up. My love for video games has never disappeared….my love of baseball started when I was six and still rages in my heart. But, so do certain grudges. Grudges grow old with us. Resentment grows old with us. We take these past hurts and make them new and fresh again. How do we get them to disappear like that awful pictue with you wearing those saggy jeans and Hypercolor T-shirt?