Once upon a time, in a town several miles up the road, I had no friends. New to the school and not nearly cool enough to be immedietly popular, I spent my first year with one friend. Maybe 2. A couple of aquaintences and no sense of belonging. All the wrong clothes. The wrong side of town, although my parents didn't know that when we moved there. That was seventh grade. By the end of eighth grade, I had a few more friends and a tentative social life. But I still didn't feel accepted. Without my friends close by, I felt lost and alone, fearful that one of the more popular kids would start to make fun of me. They did that sometimes.
One day I was standing in line and I heard the boy in front of me say, "Watch this". He turned, and held out his hand as if to shake mine. I stared at it like it would bite. I did not take his hand. He turned around and said, "See? I told you"
The boy in question had birthmarks on his hand. When I heard what he said, I knew that he was proving to his friend that people were afraid to touch him. My own insecurities underlined his belief. I wanted to apologize, I wanted to take his hand, but I didn't know how. I didn't know how to fix it. I still don't. I was fearful of this boy not because of his markings, but because of his social status. It never occurred to me that he might have been a very nice person.
It occurred to me the other day that I could look him up on MySpace. tonight I did. As I glanced over his profile, I realized that he probably doesn't remember the incident. He probably doesn't need my apology. I don't really think he would know who I am.I realized that it isn't he that needs to forgive me, I need to forgive myself. Not for the lack of a handshake, but for the predjudice I held against an innocent individual. He was never mean to me, I only assumed he would be because his friends were.
And I need to understand that I can't try to right all past wrongs, but I can try not to make the same mistakes again. I think that's even harder than apologizing.