So many a many a year ago (but not in a kingdom by the sea) I was a mere 10 year old shadow of the woman that would become JRM. At that time there was an event that led to my becoming the wonderful raging woman you see (read) before you. At this time, I attended a summer camp. Now, about this summer camp, I actually lived there. My father worked for the camp, and as such we children had free camp attendance. Our parents sent us to music camp. It was summer camp with usual camp stuff, but also with singing and instruments, and sign language- If one was in sign language choir as I was. But despite all that, and at any rate, at camp I was. And at camp I met A BOY. Now, this was approx. 1988. I was 10, and you know how it is when you meet a boy when you are 10. So here I am at 10, and I've met John. To me, John was the coolest. We hung out, and we talked, and made lanyards together. (I don't know for sure John was in my art class, but I remember that camp was the source of my lanyard making skills.) And when we went on our camp hikes, it was John who sang to me "Goodness gracious my balls are on fire" to the tune of "Great Balls of Fire". Not only was this risque to me at 10, it proceeded to stick in my head every time I heard "Great Balls of Fire" for years
Then comes the end of camp, and the end of pre-pubescent romance. But not for John and I, oh no. We wrote one another letters for the next year leading up to the next summer's music camp.
There I waited in my cute outfit, white with different colored vertical stripes. I thought I looked kind of cute in it, so what better to reunite with my guy? I sat there on the deck railing to the main building banging my heels against the ballasters waiting for registration to be done and my reunion to happen. And finally, across a crowded deck I saw him. He walked by, and I greeted him. And he ignored me. I said hi, and introduced who I was, just in case he'd forgotten how I looked. And still he ignored me, and brushed me off.
I was crushed. Then I was confused, and hurt, and finally angry. Later on during camp I attempted revenge by trying to get him in trouble. I told a counselor he'd kissed me. It was a Christian camp, so if they'd believed me it totally would have worked. Alas, they didn't and it didn't and camp ended. Over the years I was embarrassed, and as with any embarrassing memory I proceeded to block it out. It worked. I couldn't even remember his name.
I didn't remember his name, but he remembered mine.
I received an email the other day. It wasn't a name I recognized, but I opened it anyway, there was something about it that didn't seem like spam. I read a paragraph into it, and knew it was someone from my past contacting me. Into the second paragraph I was still at a loss. Then he described himself as such "I'm that butthole guy at camp Mikell way back in Toccoa, GA 16 or 17 years ago who liked you, went home that summer, wrote you letters for a year, and just like a little teenage punk jerk, ignored you the next summer."
OH MY GOD. In my head I saw myself sitting on that railing. Then I remembered my attempted revenge. I knew who he meant. So I read on."Anyway - to the point -- I still to this day feel bad about that summer...
like it's one of those things that bothers me when driving down the road or
walking by myself or doing dishes every so often. Do you have those things
that sneak up on you when you're alone and you go "man, I was such an idiot"
or even "I am an idiot" (in the present tense). Because all those little
things you do to people or those embarrassing things you say -- they haunt
you. It's Karma talking. Anyway -- this happens to me every now and then.
My being a butthole to you is one of those things that sneaks up on me once
every few months or years. I thought about it last week for the first time
in a long long time. Not sure why. I guess I was in that kick-myself mode.
So anyway - I found you - and I'm telling you, even though it's been so
darned long ago and probably doesn't mean much at this point (and you may
have even totally forgotten) -- But for what it's worth - Sorry for being a
jerk way back in whenever it was - 1989."
I was floored. Sure, it was something I'd felt bad about over the years, but it was also something I'd edited in my memory to reflect only my own immaturity of the event. Things came flooding back, and I remembered that little girl sitting on the railing in her favorite outfit waiting for her friend to show up."Just wanted to let you know - that summer I learned something. I didn't continue to be a jerk to women after that."
I wish I could tell that girl "Hey, this guy is going to be a jerk. But guess what? He will feel so badly about this that he will never treat a girl this way again". She wouldn't have gotten it, and wouldn't have cared. But I do get it, and I do care.
This is what that little girl all grown up had to say
"Of course I forgive you, and it says so much about you as a person that
you remember an unkindness from childhood and sought to rectify it."
"Thank you so much for writing me, and saying what you did. Yours
wasn't one of those wounds that still haunted me from those years, but
in an odd way it helps heal some of the ones that do. Trust me, if I
do bring you up on the blog it wont be to blast you. It's a pretty
amazing thing you just did. You should rest assured you turned out
not to be a jerk to women after all."
It was only later last night as I thought over his email that certain details came back to me, and it truly wasn't one of the things that hurt me on a regular basis any more. I am still stunned, and amazed at what he did. How often does someone from the past find us and apologize for an ancient pain? The man he has become blows me away. The fact that something like that could make such a strong impression and help form him as a man overwhelms me. That I could play such a role in his development makes me proud. Sure he may have broken my 11 year old heart, but if it saved that many other hearts? I gotta think it was worth it.
The universe reaches out to us sometimes. I was just hurt by someone who seemed to abandon me for no reason. As I am puzzling through this one of the first people to do this is also thinking of me, and reaches out to me for forgiveness.
He gave me permission to mention him here, and permission to "blast" him. That's not something I can do, nor something that he deserves.
Thank you John Scott, for remembering what you did to an insecure little girl. Thank you for caring, and being ashamed of the actions you took as a child. And thank you eternally for the actions you took as a man to repair those damages.
Just as in my last post that friend broke my heart all over again, you have helped to heal it, and restore my faith in humankind.