located in a very small town. I have some fond memories of N. After my junior year, I transferred to a larger school, H, in a larger city. I have more pleasant memories from that single year at H than I do from all my years at N. I often try to figure out the reasoning for this. Part of the blame is on me. To some extent, the reality of your life is only what you've created. In other words, my bad.
Part of the blame is on my brother. He couldn't help it though. B was very tall, very good looking (I guess), and very good at basketball. If you haven't realized it yet, these are the things that matter in high school. Because I had skipped third grade, B and I were in the same class. This was great. B was quite a bit better than the average brother and I benefited greatly from my family association with him. On the other hand, it was also difficult playing the Danny DeVito to his Arnold Schwarzenegger. As a result, I was often viewed simply as B's little brother rather than as my own entity. This...well, it sucked.
Another reason that I wasn't in love with that small school is that it was just a strange environment. J and I spoke about this a bit yesterday morning when we met up for the first time since our days as students in that small school around 20 years ago. Like me, J transferred out, though he did it after his sophomore year. For all of my problems with the small school culture, J had an additional one. He is Mexican.
Some people don't believe that racism exists. Some people believe that it exists but instances of it manifesting itself are few and far between. Some people believe that it is PC bullshit pushed by politicians to further their career. You can believe what you want. I'm not doing this to change minds. However, I choose to believe J. I know that he had to struggle with things that I didn't have to struggle with simply because his skin was a different color than mine and the "J" in his name sounded like an "H" to the white crowd. I know this because he told me. And unfortunately, I know this because I was part of the problem.
It took me awhile to figure it out, but it was not okay for me to call a Mexican classmate "B*****" as if it were his given name, no matter if every other student did the same thing and the school's faculty knew of it and did nothing in response. It wasn't okay for me to dock a Mexican girl's ranking on a hotness scale because she was Mexican (never mind the idiocy and promotion of rape culture that accompanies a hotness scale). It wasn't okay for me to tell a classmate that I just couldn't marry a Mexican because I just couldn't marry a Mexican. But this was how it was at that small school. At least, that's my reality of it. Perhaps others remember it differently, and that's okay.
School is weird. Children are cruel. Perhaps nobody makes it out of the school system without some scars. Fortunately, both J and I were able to find happiness in other school settings. I love my life and I loved hearing about J's life, hearing about the good work that he is doing for our world, and getting hugs from his daughter. I appreciate the life lessons that came from attending that small school, I regret the hurt that I caused others, and I hope that we can all be better and do better in the future.
Oftentimes, this catches people off-guard. Perhaps it's unusual to say to somebody, "How is your marriage going? Do you like it? Any regrets?" S lets me ask those questions though. I can't remember if she was always receptive to my assaults on her privacy. When we were learning about Shakespeare from an eccentric community college instructor named DM (or was it DA?), I can't recall her being particularly thrilled when I got all up in her beeswax. But she is definitely coming around.
I met with S and her family in her home. Like any gracious host would do when lunchtime rolls around, she fed me ice cream, and only ice cream. Her dog, who they called Annabelle, but whose spirit name was Big Tasty, kept letting foul SBDs. A rookie deep thinker might not notice it, but I, a wily old veteran, quickly recognized that it was the perfect environment for asking personal questions. So I did. To my delight, S not only handled them with ease, but fired some back my way without thinking twice. I liked this. I like that I had an opportunity to know S and I like that I had the opportunity to be known by S. I like that this exchange of ideas, thoughts, and feelings makes me feel more connected to S individually and to people generally. And I like that, through this exchange, I feel like I am a little bit closer to figuring out my life, what it means, where it's going, and where I'll find my heaven. Thank you, S, for helping me along my journey.