Shit. Shit. Who are you and why do you know my name? “Yeah….”
“How’s it going?”
“Um, good.” Wait, did we go to school together? “You?”
Our waiter walked away and I looked at my mom helplessly. We were out to lunch together my first day home for break. Already, I was off to a bad start. “I think that guy was in my grade,” I said, staring and trying to place him. “I don’t remember his name. He was with me in English and Math.”
Later, as I recount this story to my friends, they remind me that he and I were also in the same computer science class for three years.
Strike one. I can’t be that self-absorbed, can I?
I tried to justify it to myself by saying that obviously, four and a half years of no contact would override three years of spending hours in the same room on a daily basis, but we all know that’s fully bullshit.
Three days later, I was on a train home from visiting a friend. I was walking down the corridor, keeping my eyes peeled for an empty seat, when I spotted a familiar face. A shot at redemption! The girl, another former classmate, recognized me too, and after a polite “Hey, how’s it going?” I told her I was home for break. “I moved to the States for school,” I explained for context.
“Yeah, I know,” she said, and I immediately thought duh, Facebook. “I don’t know if you remember this, but we actually ran into each other about a year ago and you told me then that you’d started studying.”
I’d initially been dumbfounded and slightly mortified at each of these incidents, but looking back I realize they should have come as no surprise.
I wasn’t exactly popular in high school, so I always assumed nobody paid any attention to me. Nobody cared, nobody noticed, nobody would remember me once we dispersed. And not in a bad way or anything, just in an “everybody’s invested in their own lives and I am not a part of them” way.
As it turns out, this was far from reality. They did notice me and did remember me, because duh, guess what, I was a part of their life. High school was a part of their life. I was the one who had spent three years wandering around in my own head, waiting for it to end, waiting to get out, not giving a shit about anyone around me.
I was awful!
And surprise, surprise! I still am!!
Raise your hand if you’ve ever heard me talk about how I can’t wait to graduate.
Yes, it’s true. I am still a Perpetually Unhappy Narcissistic Asshole who doesn’t care about any of you. But after going back home and realizing that not all of my old classmates were awful (in fact, most were decidedly un-awful), I’m inspired to change my ways. My heart is open, my focus is outward, and I’m ready to make some friends.
Oh, and that guy from the restaurant? I remembered a few minutes later that he had a sister in my sister’s grade who had his exact face. I asked my mom about her, she knew who I was talking about, and suddenly it all came rushing back to me. Then when we were done I made her tip him extra. So. Not an entirely bad person. There’s hope.
Images via Annie Warner and via.