Some time last week I received a Facebook friend request from a most unlikely source. It was a guy I had known when I was growing up--a guy I actively loathed.
He lived up the road from me in rural Massachusetts. We road the same bus to school. Our last names both started with the same letter so our lockers were near one anothers' and we often had to sit next to one another in class. I carpooled to ballet with his little sister. All this forced proximity granted him plenty of time to engage in his favorite hobby: tormenting me.
From the time we were twelve through the better part of high school this kid took great pleasure to make sure that whatever kind of day I was having, it could certainly be made worse. Thanks to him I learned the importance of combing through your hair at the end of the bus ride to school to check for spitballs. I can't remember the majority of what I learned in 9th grade math because I spent most of that class telling this kid to stop poking me with his pencil. And it was he who taught me what it was like to have a wad of chewing gum shoved in your ear when you least expect it.
I never knew what I did to provoke such treatment other than my general crime those days of being really shy and a bit dorky.
Several years ago I was leafing through my yearbook from Senior year (just to re-iterate what a dork I was, I will now share with you the fact that I appear in the group picture of every publications-related after school activity--from lit mag to yearbook and back to the newspaper-holla!) and came across his picture.
He was actually sorta cute.
It's odd how a tortured dynamic can obscure such a fact.
But that was high school when all of my crushes centered on boys in the orchestra and the ultimate frisbee team. I had yet to meet my first Scottish biker or my first disaffected side-burned hipster. My penchant for bad-boys still laid dormant.
Today I received a nice note from this kid, now all grown up, living in Colorado. Never before would I have thought I'd use the words "nice" and "note" in the same sentence as his name. And yet it was. In this gloomiest of weeks this random note completely made my day. Not all guys who are assholes in high school turn into assholes as adults. Or if they do, their communication skills certainly improve to the extent that they can hide that truth over email.
Some aspects of adulthood aren't so terrible after all.