I was at the mall picking up a must have piece of clothing that my 15-year-old absolutely needed for her visit to the local Halloween house that evening. As I was making my way to the check-out counter, I heard my name. I turned to see who may have called me and spotted the woman who 30-some years ago had made it her mission to turn my high school years into a living hell. She and her group of friends tormented me on a daily basis. So badly, I often begged my parents to be sent to another school. I would try to hide myself as I walked through the halls to avoid running into them. These memories came flooding back as if it was yesterday and high school all over again. I pretended I hadn’t seen her and quickly made my way to the nearest checkout and sternly told myself that even if I did run into her again--though I was already formulating an escape route—that I was more than capable of handling the situation.
Casually glancing over my shoulder and not spotting the enemy, I was ready to heave a sigh of relief when someone touched my arm. She greeted me like we were long-lost friends, giving me a big hug and asking how I had been. The meek, mousey, teenager with braces and apparently a large target on her back, wanted to just melt into the floor. I forced a smile and said everything was just great. She then asked if I wanted to have a quick coffee and catch up. My shocked reaction must have registered on my face because she quickly said if I was too busy, maybe we could chat another time.
Conversations with her in high school consisted of her and her friends throwing insults and publically humiliating me, it was never a polite back and forth exchange. I thought maybe since we were both adults in our 50’s, high school was a thing of the past and we could actually sit down, be civil, catch up, laugh, and enjoy a coffee together. We went to a local coffee place. She proceeded to tell me about her life. She had just recently quit work because her husband felt that her time should be dedicated to raising their two daughters and being available to volunteer for all their activities. So now her days were filled with volunteer work and just being a great mom. Did I work? I told her that I did and I really loved my job. She brushed that off and asked if I had children? I proudly said I had two teenage daughters and that even with work I was also the president of the Cheerleading boosters. I couldn’t resist the dig and was feeling pretty proud of myself for being able to do both pretty well when she touched my arm and said that I was probably doing the best I could.
In high school I would have slid down in my chair, humiliated that I wasn’t perfect or that I did things differently. But today, I had this vision in which I actually jumped up and shouted that I wasn’t just doing the best I can but I was doing a damned great job. Then I realized I didn’t care what she thought. I may have tried everything to make her like me in high school, but 30 years later, I may still have remembered those horrible days but today—I honestly didn’t care what she thought.