Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.
- President Dwight D. Eisenhower

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Sometimes a name is inappropriate for a title.

Now is such a time.

I haven't thought about this for years. I don't even really know why I remembered it. When I was... ten or eleven, I was in the fifth grade at Ford elementary school. A girl, whose name I don't remember, but whose face is vividly inside my mind's eye as I type this, sat alone in the cafeteria. I was a transfer student from Abbot elementary school in Ann Arbor. My parents had divorced.

I decided to sit next to this girl. She was quiet, thoughtful, and altogether normal. During recess, I was pulled aside by some of my classmates, and I was told the lie that she was infected with HIV. Yes. Children are that cruel.

I had watched the health videos. I knew how HIV was transferred, and I knew that I was totally safe if I continued to befriend this girl. I was a coward.

I never sat with her, again. She left for a different school a short time after that. I never saw her again. I can't even remember her name.

I can never make it right with this girl. I had the choice to be brave, and I ran away. I will forever live with this, and every once in a while, perhaps with intervals of years between instances, I will remember this girl, and be overcome with a crushing feeling of guilt.

I deserve it.

3 comments:

Dyna Girl said...

That's why we grow up. You were a kid who caved in. I know how it feels to relive memories like that with shame, but you have to remember that you had a young, unfinished sense of self. Look at you now, Baby...among the righteous. I bet Oprah can find her and let you apologize. That's her kind of gig.

An Cailin said...

Scoot, you were a child. Don't beat yourself up over having caved in. I probably would have done the same thing. I don't like that I probably would have, but I accept it as being childlike. Children, by definition, aren't blessed with amazing responsibility or maturity.

Brock said...

This is a wonderful memory. Pain and guilt are instructive aids to growth.