I think there will be a lot more things like this that I regret when I look back on my life. This was a lesson for me in being a person who makes people feel like they are worthwhile...no matter what. I think we all have things we would have done differently in high school-- here is one of my stories:
I don’t know how to start this piece because I don’t know what it was like to sit in their gym shorts or see their reflection when looking in the mirror. I don’t remember the panic rising in my sternum when the teacher said, Find a group for this assignment. I can’t quite recall what it was like to push myself to the front, only to be looked through and picked last.
But I do remember the question Will you dance with me and my answer haunts me still. I remember the look in his eyes, full of hope and fear and self-depreciation, his untucked Hawaiian print shirt flowing around his Carhart jeans. Oh, actually, Jesse already asked me for the next dance. The guy’s name was interchangeable in this response, of course.
I didn’t have a problem being seen with Andy. I wasn’t offended by his presence. I made conversation with him, and I wasn’t even afraid to sit with him in the cafeteria from time to time. But this was different, this was skin next to skin and his sweat close to mine. This was taking an awkward high school dance to the next level—this was actually showing him my humanity and communicating dignity with my sways to the music.
Oh, actually, Kyle already asked me for the next dance. He was persistent though, and as I would dance with Troy, John, or Craig, I would always catch a glimpse of him sitting on the bleachers, still with that look of hope and fear and laughing at something his friend Travis had said, who was inevitably sitting next to him. Oh, actually, Jaret already asked me for the next dance.There was too much humanness at stake. It would be too messy.
And looking back I see myself swaying to Aerosmith, lights flickering all around on the old gym floor. And there they are, sitting on the bleachers, and I scream to myself above the music, them! Dance with them! Dance with Andy.