Last night was Girl's Night. A half dozen friends and I went to dinner and a movie.
Dinner was Winger's. The movie was You Again.
You Again, starring Kristen Bell and Jamie Lee Curtis, is about a woman named Marni (played by Bell) who was bullied in high school. Marni's relentless tormentor was a girl named Joanna. Though Marni has grown out of her teen-aged nerdiness (glasses, braces, zits, etc.)--even celebrating it in her job as a marketing guru--things fall to pieces when she realizes her brother is about to marry Joanna. When Marni returns home and her life starts to unravel, she becomes determined to save her brother and expose Johanna as a high-school bully.
The movie was lighthearted and fun. I enjoyed it. And it got me thinking . . . which is always good . . . because sometimes I get too busy for my own good and forget the really important things.
On the way home, a few of us swapped bully stories--stories about girls who weren't nice, but who turned out to be wonderful women. We even discussed how we had probably offended others when we hadn't intended to.
I told about a girl I knew when I was a junior in high school, not an arch nemesis--though I had a few of those--but still someone who made me feel like I wanted to sob. She was beautiful, gifted, and smart. She was also catty and arrogant and seemed to thrive on putting me down.
Years later, I got invited to attend a reunion. The girl who had made me feel worthless wasn't alone in her cruelty and I took the opportunity to respond to the invitation with what had been simmering inside of me for years. I detailed--politely--how circumstances in my life at the time had been difficult. So difficult that even getting out of bed in the morning and going to school was a major endeavor; the girls who tormented me were nearly the last straw that made me want to succumb to grief and depression.
To my amazement one girl--the girl--wrote back. A nice, handwritten card that branded itself on my soul. She admitted her wrongs, and apologized--profusely.
My heart burned in gratitude. I wanted to thank her, acknowledge how kind of her it was to apologize.
But I didn't.
Even though I had learned that most people outgrow their high school selves--me included because I was also guilty of snarkiness from time to time--even though I told myself I had forgiven the girls and the girl, I stuffed the card away. I told myself, yeah, she should have apologized, she needed to, and that was that. I didn't need to thank her for doing what she did.
Days later I felt a surge of guilt. I really wanted to answer her and tell her what her kindness meant to me--if I'd spent the effort to detail her rottenness, surely her compassion deserved equal time.
By then I'd lost the card...dumb.
In years since I've often thought of the girl, now woman, and I've hunted for the card so I can retrieve her married name and address.
It's burned the event ever deeper into my soul, a gentle reminder that when I'm prompted to act in a positive way I need to do so.
After last night, after watching the movie, guess what I'm doing again today?
...looking for the card...