A couple months after I graduated high school, I went to the grocery store for my mom. While I was coming out with my bags, I saw one of my old Classmates. I had known him since Elementary school, but during that awkward transition into Middle school, he started bullying me. He stayed that way all through Middle and High school, teasing me for being “weird” and “creepy”, and pretty much all that comes with my love for art, Japanese culture and nerdy television programs.
I didn’t want to talk to him, I was in a pretty sour mood. But while I was shopping it had started to rain, and I didn’t have an umbrella. Sure enough, he saw me and came over, asking if he could help me take my bags to my car. I thought I might as well. He did work there and I did like the idea of him being forced to haul my groceries through the rain, since I had parked a long distance from the entrance to the store.
So while we walked, he started up some idle chit chat. How I was, How he was, What colleges we were thinking about going to. When he finished loading my groceries into the car, I expected him to call me one of the names he had given me (“Jamie-san” was a popular one). But instead, he did something I never expected anyone to do.
He said he was sorry for turning on me back in Elementary school. He apologized for every name and every push and shove and face he made at me. He had told me that when he first began to bully me, his parents were going through a nasty divorce; but he also said, “That doesn’t really excuse it.”
He looked like he was about to cry when he told me this, or maybe he was and I mistook it for rain. I told him I forgave him, and in all honesty, I had really not been as bitter about it as he thought. He asked if we could be friends, and I said sure. When I drove home I went straight to my room and cried. He gave me his number and we have little chats every now and again.
I hated being bullied, and I don’t condone what he had done to me all those years. But he had the strength and the humility to apologize to me, and to take responsibility for all he put me through. He chose to take his anger and grief out on me, but he was just as much a victim as I was and he knew no better. I hope that someday, everyone who has ever been bullied can know what it’s life to be apologized to. There’s no greater feeling in the world to know that at least one person was sorry for what they did to you. And although this boy was only one of many people who had made my school life a living hell, I’m proud to say that I’ve made one less enemy, and one more friend.