Monday, September 5, 2011

Time, the great equalizer...

I don't know why it is that my most profound spiritual revelations happen on trains, but there's no denying the trend.

I just finished good quality time (almost 4 hours) with one of those friends who makes you feel most profoundly yourself. I floated down into the Red Line station, awash in feelings of realness and gratitude, when an older woman asks me if I can help her get to Millennium Park. And I freeze. Because I know she won't recognize me, but I recognize her immediately.

She's the mother of my middle-school archenemy - the girl who made/whom I let make me feel so badly about myself that those feelings have echoed through the ages. The girl I blame for lost friendships, lost sleep, and lost worthiness. The girl I hated and admired at the same time. And whose mother, I believed, held those same feelings toward my mother, who had the grace to never really engage in that. The girl who made me feel like nothing.

I eventually introduced myself to my middle-school nemesis' mother and oddly felt none of the things I'd expected. I am myself and am so far from home that there's little that could hurt me now. We played catch up, briefly, as I tried to point out that she was headed in the wrong direction. And during that catch-up, I asked about my nemesis, prepared to feel the same jealousy I always feel when I ask about "golden children." And she does have things I don't - children, a partner. But I learned, right before her mother stepped off the train, that her father is dying of terminal cancer and lives with her.

It was like being socked in the gut. I have carried this girl's actions so far into my life, only to find that we've lost/are losing the same things. None of that competition got us anywhere, except to a space that neither of us, I'm betting, would wish on our worst enemies. Which she stopped being, officially, as soon as I heard that. Hearing that helped me remember that, in high school, she got treated like shit by the new in-crowd. Hearing that helped me remember that, while she shouldn't have hurt me like she did, I used that hurt to turn around and victimize a whole bunch of people who should also never have been hurt. Hearing that reminded me that comparing myself to a person I have seen in over 15 years only hurts me, and helps me forget that we all gain things and lose them - that's the deal humanity has struck. The only things we get to carry always are grace, forgiveness, and the ability to love.

All of this time I wasted, and continue to waste, measuring up to other people, counting and cataloguing hurts, blaming others when I fall down - I get none of that time back. And there are so many things I want to do with my life. I can't afford to waste time anymore.

So, to that girl, wherever she lives - I am sorry. I am sorry for carrying a distorted picture of you around. I am sorry for envying what you had then. And I am most sorry for what you are losing now. We neither of us deserve it, which makes us more alike than either of us might have imagined...

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful, Cat. I totally get it...there's a girl I went to school with from second grade on who I have felt that same way about. She was so awful to me (for absolutely no reason) way back when and for so many years, and now she is constantly telling me (gotta love facebook) how sweet I am and that she's grateful for me, etc. It's the weirdest feeling...but she's been through some horrible things since high school, and you're's weird how things all sort of even out in the end. And I have to keep remembering that none of us are who we were "way back when" (thank goodness!). People change, things change, and forgiveness is healing.