I know it doesn’t change anything now…but I’m sorry I made fun of you.
I was driving through the big town today and saw the billboard they put up for you…well, both of them. You graduated from one of the top colleges in the state and you’re a Rhodes Scholar.
I’m sorry I was such a rude kid to you when we were in high school. I’m sorry I mocked you mercilessly behind your back at all of our tournaments. I’m sorry I called you fat, ugly, said no one would ever date you, laced my fingers through the fingers of whomever I was dating at the time and stuck my tongue out at your back as you walked in front of me down the halls of schools when we were together. I’m sorry I repeated your name in high pitched mocking tones when they announced you’d won something…I know you were a nice person and you didn’t do the same to me. You recommended books for me, you talked about the required reading for that year’s tournament, you invited me to bunk with you at camps I never went to because I was too busy.
You liked me.
I mocked you.
You wouldn’t recognize me now, I graduated and went to Bible College because I believed for some reason that I was supposed to. I went from being a runner to an obese, sick, college graduate working at a newspaper. My brain, the thing that made us competitors, enemies turned against me and I swing violently from one extreme to the next these days. Yeah, I graduated college in three years but I couldn’t tell you the thematic elements of Madame Bovary , I couldn’t tell you much about the art we loved back then these days. No one will put two billboards up about me in town, no one from our old competitions remembers much about me…
I chose a different life, I chose stagecraft rather than literary criticism, I chose The Man rather than world travel, I always believed in the back of my mind that I was inferior to you, when I managed to beat you out for first place I celebrated too much, thought too much of myself, said I was the best, you must have been having an off day.
We’re adults now, you’re going to go on your Rhodes Scholar trip abroad and I’m headed to graduate school next fall. Maybe we’ll choose the same school? Maybe I’ll pass you in the hallway and stop you, say we competed against one another and you were nice to me, apologize for old wounds…
Maybe you’ll do the same things to me I did to you…
and maybe I’ll deserve it.