My only friend from high school called a few weeks back and updated me about some people we knew there. An English teacher who mocked me in front of the class died of AIDS. I felt vindicated. But something else my friend said raised an interesting question. He mentioned that he moved back to his old community and bought a huge house. I was astonished that he would do such a thing considering the way we were both treated back then. He even mentioned going to the high school reunion and one person who mistreated him in school apologized to him.
I asked him why he wanted to move back to an area where he was so poorly treated, and he said something that led me to believe that he was worried about what those people still thought of him. It really bothered me that he was still concerned about offending them. I guess if you have property in enemy territory, and you were somehow at their mercy, either through a lending institution, local government services, or whatever, one might walk on eggshells, but this fear seemed a little over-the-top to me.
It could be me. I don’t keep in touch with anyone. I’m not really sure what friendship means anymore. Probably because of my feelings have been hurt by other friends over the years. My problem was not being able to properly express how I felt. I knew that my feelings were unreasonable and I would only be embarrassed if I tried to express them, so I kept to myself, fuming, looking at the floor and not making eye contact.
My detachment from people colored what I thought about my friend’s return to the cauldron of abuse that is the community populated by the bullies from high school. Many of them are still there. I was surprised that he had any respect for anyone living in that area, but then I remembered he was always concerned about what other people thought of him, despite the fact that most of them cannot affect his life. He’s a perfectly reasonable and sociable person who naturally has no negative effect on anyone who matters.
If I moved back there, all the horrors of my past experience would haunt me, finally driving me insane, unless I was planning on getting revenge. I don’t think my friend is the type who would get revenge, but if those people knew he was back, I can gleefully imagine what they must be feeling, if they remember him.
Simple noises outside their windows at night are no longer ignored and seem louder and more sinister. The flashes of colors from clothing out of the corner of their eyes trigger disturbing subconscious memories that causes a gnawing inarticulate guilt. Feelings of being followed or watched from a distance begin to pervade the day. Car headlights on the road in front of the house at night suddenly and inexplicably trigger an adrenaline rush, where previously there was none.
But, I don’t think my only friend from high school is planning revenge, but I still can’t get over the fact that he moved back there.