I was at the Atlanta Heartfelt Airport waiting at the gate for my flight. Someone came by, and while talking on his phone sat down next to me. I was looking at my iPad. It was the voice, but more the tone I recognized. He was on the phone I figured, with his wife. I turned and yes, that’s who it was. The bully from high school; form all those years ago. I am now a man of 50, but the sight made my heart skip. It was hard to swallow. This wasn’t the first time I had to face people from that past, but this time was different.
I was cordial as we recognized each other. We compared notes on friends and what had happened in nearly 35 years. Most people don’t remember or claim not to remember bullying you. They expect you to file it away and let it go, like an ordinary passing event. This time I didn’t.
We had a history and after the chatting wound down, I told him. I told him I used to be afraid of him. He reacted as if he didn’t understand. I told him I was afraid of him and once when he had me by the shoulders, and wanted to beat me up. I told him, I stared telling him facts, and asking him questions about himself. He lost interest in beating me up and let me go.
I told it to him again, and he didn’t still understand. I told him, with you I learned how to get out of trouble. I learned I could talk my way out of it. I learned of a way to defend myself. He smiled and told me he really didn’t remember, but that he was sorry if he had caused me pain. He showed genuine care and I chose to believe him, and average out the experiences. One with the other. If I make believe the past didn’t happen, then I won’t have moments like this one. I know we are both the better for it.