A lot of people say they wouldn't change anything in their life if they could because they don't know how it would change them today. I'll admit, I used to be one of those people but now looking back, I say to myself, I would change something. I am convinced that nearly anybody who believes they would not go back and change a thing if they could are denying the truth that they are not needing of forgiveness for at least one thing they've done. Who cares if my life would be different? I am grateful for my life now, but I would have been a better person if I had made the better choice many years ago.
This story begins around ten years ago when I was in first grade—reminder, that was in first grade, not present time for now I am not second best in anything at any level as far as I know. I always realized I was the runner up of everything that didn't involve coordination, athleticism, or social aspects. Then again I guess I was the runner up in the social aspect of least popular kid in the school. Now I'm sure a lot of you are wondering one of two things—if not both of these. You are wondering, "Who was the least popular?" or "That's so sad, how did you cope with that?" Both questions you keep in your mind because they are rude to ask but I know you have the questions and I will not fail to answer them. But there is some information I must present to you before I go into explanation of that.
Being second least popular means one thing, it means that I actually had a friend or someone who stood up for me while the person at the bottom of the mountain has nobody—when I say nobody I mean nobody. I refuse to use her actual name because I can't say if she'd prefer I'd use it or not so let us say her name is Sheila. There isn't much I can recall about Sheila because it has been seven years since I've seen her last and my memory is not quite that of an elephant's memory. My first memory of her is actually a nice one. It was recess and I was alone outside and she approached me. At this time, our standings weren't really set in stone. Neither of our spots of who's less cool was confirmed at the time. I can't quite remember the conversation but it probably started with her greeting me and me greeting her back. We conversed a little bit and it was evident that she wanted to be my friend—not so much because it was the only chance she had in such an unforgiving environment but mostly because I was the friendliest person to her. There's nothing wrong with that right?
The truth is there was nothing wrong with that. Unfortunately, two things happened that should have meant nothing but actually meant something to me because first of all I was young and foolish, and second of all I was a guy.
Somewhere along that first meeting she drew a heart with an arrow piercing it in white chalk on the cement near the front of the school and declared it our meeting spot. Now for a guy in first grade that's a total red light. For those of you who are not acquainted with elementary school psychological math let me share something with you; hearts of any kind—except on Valentine's Day—plus first grade boys equals a big no. Now I highly doubt that anybody under the age of eleven will ever read this but in the case that a really intelligent—or patient with the assistance of a dictionary—elementary school student somehow manages to make it through reading this as far as these words by the miracle of what is called the dictionary I should say that for the girls, never draw hearts as anything to a guy your age (wait until high school), and guys, if a girl your age draws a heart as any symbol for something for you do not freak out (until high school that is). By now the paradox leaves these elementary school children completely baffled and I feel that is safe to continue this reflection further. I don't remember now what caused us to temporarily separate that recess—maybe she had to use the bathroom—but we did temporarily separate. In the mean time my only other friend approached me and asked about me concerned. When I questioned his foolish question—of course I was okay—he explained to me the "dangers" of befriending such a "freak of nature." This, along with the aforementioned event had put me (a foolish six year old) in great fear. I agreed to make my escape while she wasn't present and did so "successfully." Now if by some strange hand of fate an elementary level student remains reading this I should say that this was the wrong decision. This is a decision made based off of nothing other than the fear of being nobody in the eyes of society.
For those of you who are new to my works should be informed of some basic psychological math of what I am. Society plus I equals one man who is trying to show many people the faults of what we believe is how the world works. Now, I find it appropriate to explain one of my philosophies that is based off of "The Game." Now you are saying many things. First of all you are thinking "[Insert expletive of your choice], I just lost the game." Or perhaps you are thinking "What is the game?" Then there are those of you who are asking "What does the game have to do with this?" Before I get to that I must say I lost the game. Moving on, for those of you who are new to the concept of "The Game" I shall enlighten you on the subject. "The Game" is as its name suggests a game. "The Game" has simple rules. First of all, it is impossible to win the game, you can only lose it. You lose "The Game" when you think about "The Game." If it crosses your mind you must announce aloud "I lost 'The Game.'" This in turn makes everyone around you aware of "The Game" also lose the game and it becomes a domino effect. Likewise, society plays a game that has similar effect. It starts with one person who does something and it becomes the way people view how society works. For example, one highly respected person degrades someone who is not as well known and people want to be just like that person and follow the example. The same ripple effect occurs resulting in a trend that people follow. If you can call life a game that would mean society by its base trends is losing the game. Clearly, "The Game" is symbolic to the trends of society and how we are as a society.
Where does that leave us? This shows how I was easily seduced into doing such an abominable act. I am not at all defending myself. I have no excuse for what I did. There are times where one can make a plausible defense for themselves and I probably could, however it would just be more the wrong and I'd regret it like I regret being so stupid in the first place. But as it went I took the rank of second least popular student in the school—which looking back was not a burden at all. At least I had somebody; Sheila had nobody.
A year came and went and it was getting close to the Holiday season and we were preparing for our second grade Holliday Concert. Guess who I had the honor—back then I used this sarcastically but looking back now it was an honor to the truest honor of the word itself—of standing next to on the risers. I indeed was standing next to Sheila. By this time I had been completely adulterated against her just because nobody liked her and neither should I care for her. On the actual day of the concert she was wearing a nice purple dress of some sort that sparkled in the light—none of us cared I just felt that I should mention this to secure to my readers how vivid my memory is of this event. On the last song of the concert where we were free to do a little movement I fell from the risers but got back up quickly uninjured without even flinching—until I saw the event on camera a few weeks later. This of course had nothing to do with Sheila other than the fact she was standing right next to me. It gave me a reason in my mind to resent her presence in my life for if she wasn't there I would have had more room and would not have fallen off the risers. How stupid could I have been as to base resentment off of something that happened due to my lack of coordination?
My next memory of Sheila is not as vivid. I could not tell you what she was wearing or even when it was. It was either third or fourth grade when we were in the square dancing unit of our physical education class. It was that time of year that everybody dreaded. The guys were not yet interested in girls and the girls were not yet interested in guys. We were given the chance to choose a partner if we wanted to; needless to say nobody jumped at the chance, except for Sheila. A person could not deny anyone's request for a dance partner. If somebody wanted you, you would politely accept their offer and not even hesitate lest be called a yokel or pizon head by the gym teacher and sternly confronted further. I remember pushing myself up against the cafeteria wall praying I became invisible. I was praying that she didn't choose me for it would be embarrassing and the end of me. If I was her I wouldn't have chosen me because I would have remembered how that boy was a foul rotting pile of donkey dung for backstabbing me. Just as I thoughtlessly prayed, she didn't choose me but yet another "undeserving" boy who reluctantly went forward as everyone tried to stifle their laughs. All that mattered to me was that I was safe from the encounter of having to dance with Sheila, and that to this day is my second biggest regret to date—for it truly would have been an honor to the furthest degree if she had chosen me to be her partner even if it wasn't my thoughts immediately, but if she considered me even slightly better than a foul rotting pile of donkey dung then she was only too kind.
The last memory of Sheila due to Sheila herself came in fourth grade. Looking back on this memory I can tell you that within this paragraph you will learn my single biggest regret in my whole entire life. There's only so much lonely one person can take. Sheila hit her peak, but none of us noticed because we never paid any attention to her. Not many of us knew what was going on when we saw state police vehicles outside our school. We were confused and slightly scared to say the least. After a while the situation was under control and the police left and everything was "normal" again. A lot of gossip was being spread at lunch and recess on the events, but I was never informed. By this time I had built myself my own larger outcast reputation. I was in the first year of my nearly complete exile from the enjoyment school could bring. This was an exile that would define me until I reached high school, but I can only imagine Sheila's exile was worse. The next day we had someone in our classroom—I cannot remember if it was a speaker or faculty member of the school—who enlightened us on the subject of bullying for the fiftieth time in the same way we had been told since we were in pre-school. There comes a time when these talks become ineffective and a joke. Unfortunately, nobody could take this as a joke. We were informed that the day before a student had attempted to run away from school. It wasn't until later that day I found out that it was Sheila. Her motive was to just escape the taunts and alleviate the pain of being considered no greater than a grain of sand on lands set aside for agriculture. She was found but she wasn't okay. She didn't want to come back—with good reason I mind you.
Do you think after that event anyone had the sympathy and compassion to go up to her and apologize and rethink what we were doing? The answer is no. I had sympathy and guilt even, and when others laughed I remained silent wanting to testify how iniquitous it was to be so amused by another person's anguish, but I remained silent with the fear that I may be out casted just as well as her for doing so. I did nothing but sit back and watch her struggle continue like a child watching his parents get killed. When fifth grade came around, she moved.
Over the years as time went by Sheila was forgotten. There was the occasional mentioning of her running away and laughing at how "pathetic" she was. I still remained silent in those times still with guilt and still with fear. My exile grew worse every year and I let Sheila slip my mind except for those conversations. Then I'd remember the sad little girl from elementary school helpless against the crowds of people waiting in line just to taunt her. I rarely thought about her in those middle school years; it was just too hard to bear at the time. I got what I had coming to me for being such an uncouth child to her by getting the favor returned thirty fold—but I'd rather not talk about that in this essay for it is inappropriate to take the light off of my regret and then put it on my torture, just know that justice was served to me.
High school became a breath of fresh air to my life. Somehow a few people decided that being friends with a foul rotting pile of donkey dung wouldn't be so bad. In fact, a lot of people did, and I love them for it. I'm not sure they know what I've done in my past although that isn't me now, and I'm not sure what they would think but they stick by me like the godsends they are. I'm not sure that they'll ever know to what extent I mean that but they truly are above and beyond what I ever could have asked for. Come my sophomore year I was wondering if maybe Sheila found the same comfort. I remember one day I was texting my best friend since fourth grade when I asked him if he remembered Sheila. He remembered and like me he felt bad. We wondered the same things about her. Was she even still alive or did she never find acceptance and kill herself because of our stupidity. Could she ever forgive the people if they truly felt sorry? We even searched her name on facebook to find over five hundred results. With only vague memories of that little girl and no photographs we couldn't say who she was. We still search sometimes with the hopes that someday we could ask how she's doing, let her know somebody cares, and even be her friend like we should have been ten years prior to this date.
Recently my thoughts of her have increased steadily. I have made it a mission to find her someday to give her this very piece of writing. I don't expect for her to forgive a foul rotting pile of donkey dung, but if she had such an overly gracious heart and somehow found it within her to forgive this sinful man it would take a load off of my soul so that I may know I made a mistake but did the next best thing to correct it as best as possible.
I guess this is the part where I must ask "Sheila" if she ever reads this to please know that I am sincerely sorry for my ignorance and lack of empathy towards you all those years ago. If you could ever contact me to let me know you read this it would mean so much. I find myself praying that you made it through your endeavors and have found your happiness. I should find myself prostrate before you fore you are a marvel of a woman, and a much better person than I could ever find myself to be.
To my readers I must say, if you have a chance to apologize to anyone you have done wrong to, do so now. You never know what can happen. I may spend my whole life looking for this apology to reach the right person. And so let it be for it is what I have brought upon myself. If she should die before I can reach her then let me put this on her grave at the least, but if you readers have the chance to correct wrongs now via apology then do so and not let yourselves fall into this same trap. Regret is a burden on the heart and soul, but a deserved one. I leave you with this thought. And Sheila, I hope to find you someday and be able to apologize face to face, but until then, this is the best I have. Unfortunately, I am much better with words on paper than in actual conversation but I will not let that stop me a coward as I was before. Sheila, take care of yourself. I send you my love—a friends love that is. Wherever you are, know that I remember you, your bravery through your endeavors, and your inner beauty—which stands more important than anything. Know that you are loved and I now know the honor I miss with your absence.