One of the days I have been able to hold onto clearly in my mind was held there because of a random encounter with a younger student at my high school. Here is how it went.
Setting: The atrium bench beside a pillar. I was out of class for some reason I don’t remember. I sat down on a bench seat beside another boy. I recognized him as maybe a grade eight student. I started to talk to him.
“What’s your name?”
“What are you doing out here?”
“Eating my lunch.”
“I usually do.”
“Nobody wants to eat with me. Nobody wants to do anything with me.”
“You must have some friends.”
“Yeah but he’s not here today.”
“Why not make some new friends?”
“Everyone’s mean to me.”
“Yeah, they make fun of me n stuff.”
Uncomfortable silence ensued.
“Why don’t you prove them wrong?”
“Why don’t you show them you’re a nice guy? I think you are.”
“Thanks.” He smiles.
“It’s not as bad as it seems. Or you could join a club or something, I know you’re good at something.”
“Yeah I guess so. I could.”
“Don’t let those people bother you, because if they don’t want to take the time to get to know you, they aren’t worth being your friend anyway.”
“I hope you have a good day and I’m glad I got to meet you.”
After that day I’ve seen him around. I always smiled and he always smiled the nicest smile back. I saw him at the bus stop the other week. He looked unhappy. It made me sad that he has probably forgotten our talk. So, I write him this letter:
I’m glad I noticed you and I’m glad I stopped to talk to you. I’d seen you around and you looked so young and so approachable, even though you didn’t think you were. Five years later I still remember the hurt in your eyes. I also remember your smile when I said you were nice. I don’t know what makes you sad and I don’t know how you got that way. But I want you to know that I remember how nice your eyes were when you smiled. I remember thinking to myself that someday those eyes would make some girl really happy to see.
I saw you the other day. You were wearing clothes you’d just outgrown, mostly in black. You looked at the ground when you walked and bumped people’s shoulders by accident. You didn’t look like you were proud of yourself. You looked like you wanted to hide, or just keep being ignored. If I’d had more courage that day I would have shown you that you aren’t ignored. I saw you.
But I didn’t, so I write this to you now. No matter what’s happened to you, or what people have said, there is way more to life beyond your high school. People can be really mean and insensitive. It isn’t fair. But you are a genuinely nice guy with a really kind face and smile, and I hope that it takes you far away from the places that make you sad.
You’re a great person and once you start believing that, so many more people will see it too. Good luck, and know at least one person still thinks about you and wonders how you are.