walk it off
by Miss What's-Your-Name-Again?
I’m sorry those other girls said whatever thing that they said to you to make you so upset. I think they said you lied about something, but honestly I can’t remember and I’m sorry for that, too. I was using half of my brain to listen to you, and the other half trying to decide between two horrendously bad ideas for how to spend my afternoon, because I was in a self-destructive mood (that happens occasionally when you’re a grownup.) However, you got my full attention, and the attention of a passing teacher, when you suddenly burst into tears and, shout-crying, explained to me that, two years ago, they had a joint birthday party and invited every single person in your grade except you and it was so embarrassing and hurt your feelings so much. Ah. And there it really was, wasn’t it? The other teacher was not having any of this and told you that was something you needed to get over, but that she would help you resolve your more immediate complaint with your frenemies (apparently she deemed me absolutely incapable of handing it… which means my master plan to appear absolutely incapable of handling peer mediation continues to work… masterfully.)
I’m not sure I agreed with her though, muffin. I get that perhaps using this minor incident as a springboard to address your previous and very long-held grudge did not necessarily play well with my fellow teacher, who was using her lunch break to address this, but I understand that getting over something isn’t exactly as easy as, well, getting over it. Especially if something is embarrassing and horrible; these things have a tendency to stick with us. I have my own little flashcard set of humiliating moments tucked away inside, and every now and then, my subconscious will just flip one over and show it to me, often completely without warning or cause, and stop me cold. For example, when I was stuck at the copier today, and thumbing through Facebook (this is why we should all quit Facebook) just seeing a face from my past flipped one of my cards over. The memory rushed back at me of sixth grade, when some awful girl told literally everyone about the major crush I had harbored on a boy in our grade since elementary school. When what became the longest, most humiliating day of my entire life ended, and I was getting off the bus, this boy, who I had been friends with and secretly loved for years, reached out to give me a sheepish high-five, which I returned quickly, and just in time to exit the bus and dissolve into tears. I’m not going to tell you how long ago it was that I was in sixth grade, mostly because if I do the math I might try and throw myself out of my second-story window, suffice to say it was a long fucking time ago. But, when I remember that high five, it is real, and it is so bright and fresh and so, so very painful.
When that other teacher did her thing and left the three of you to hug it out, the other two girls skulked off in the opposite direction and you looked to me, like, “What the fuck?” I shrugged my shoulders and told you that, sometimes, the only thing left to do is try to walk it off. You looked to me, again, like, “What the fuck,” so I’m sorry that was apparently really awful and vague advice. But what else the fuck is there to do? Maybe, sometimes, that’s all there is. You walk. It just sucks. But it is an immutable fact that, every time you step, you do get one step farther away from whatever it is that you’re walking away from. That’s math. And I know, lovie, I know there are some things that seem so big, and so loud that there is literally nowhere you could ever go where it won’t be able to hurt you anymore. And sometimes you will think you’re a million miles away, and you’ll take one wrong turn and end up face-to-face with it again, in all its hugeness and ugliness and realness. Best we can hope for is that the roads continue to be infinite, and that, just maybe, we have overestimated our ability to hold onto things, and underestimated the amount of distance we can cover when we just keep our eyes facing the horizon, and walk.
I can’t tell you how far we need to go to silence the voices and maybe even keep that masochistic little deck of flashcards of mine in check. All I can do is welcome you the fuck to life, and remind you that we’re all walking together.