I once read somewhere that men remember the positive milestones in life while women remember negative moments. Maybe “remember” isn’t the right word, maybe it’s more about what’s formative to us as people. Men are formed by positive, women by negative (according to whoever said that.) Thinking back to my childhood, the moments that stick out are ones where I felt cut to the quick by someone I cared about. Moments that shamed me. It’s funny how those never disppear, in fact they seem to intensify as life goes on. So I thought I’d share three moments that formed me, in hopes of exorcising the demons:
I was a shy kid. When I realized that I had a talent and passion for music, it took me a while to work up the courage to join into school-based musical activities. To get a little positive feedback in fifth grade, I told my best friend at the time that I was thinking about joining chorus. Her response was, “You!??! SINGING?!?! *evil laughter*” The way I remember it, there may also have been a thunder clap and a cold wind. I didn’t actually join chorus until freshman year of high school, and didn’t try to enter any NYSSMA competitions until even later.
The Skate Factory was simply the coolest place to hang out back in middle school. It’s where we went to hug boys, eat crappy pizza and pretend to care about rollerskating. I loved it passionately. One weekend, on a family excursion (or one of my sister’s birthday parties, perhaps) I took a pretty bad fall. Went right down like a sack of bricks. I got up and scooted over to my mother, who was with my aunt at the snack bar. “Did you see me fall?!” I asked. “No, but we could feel it all the way over here,” was my mom’s response. She laughed and I frowned, then went off and sobbed in the bathroom. I mentioned it to her recently and she kind of brushed it off, saying, “Oh I’d never make fun of your weight!” Revisionist historian, eh.
One final painful moment: In high school we were crazy about the movie Empire Records. I could recite that thing from start to finish. The soundtrack is still one of my favorites, including the absolutely classic ‘Money (That’s What I Want)’. Long before the movie came out, I would spend hours laying on my living room floor, listening to Beatles albums. They’d covered the song and so did the Flying Lizards, which was the version that appeared in the movie. I mentioned to a friend’s mother that I’d always loved the Beatles version and she rolled her eyes. “That is not a Beatles song. If you think the Beatles ever did anything like this, you know nothing about the Beatles.” I think that moment made me cry, too.
I’ve probably said a billion insensitive things to people over the years, without realizing it. That’s what all this really makes me think about. When did I cut someone to the quick? Do they remember it to this day? If I tried to apologize, would it make a difference? Would it bandage a wound that’s been festering for years? Probably not. I don’t think someone apologizing to me would change anything. I’d still be me, and those harsh words would still be woven into the fabric of my personality. So maybe apologies aren’t necessary, but rather sincere thanks.