Babies - God Damn It, You've Got To Be Kind
If anyone ever tells you that middle school was the best time of their life - run.
Or make like Captain Marvel and punch them square in the face.
Because this person is obviously either a sociopath or a shape-shifter intent on destroying earth.
Middle school sucked for me.
I had moved to the States a year prior and was still finding my footing.
I didn't have that clique of friends from elementary school and I had a hard time understanding uniquely American idiosyncrasies like Thanksgiving, the Pledge of Allegiance and how vociferously religious children were.
Yes, Aaron. I know your dad is a pastor but do you really need to affirm "Praise The Lord!" every time someone gets an answer right in class? Public school, buddy. Calm down.
And then, there was the whole bullshit about being 13.
I was growing but not taller (literally, what the fuck am I supposed to do with these things? What, is the universe really worried about me drowning or something?), I had frizzy hair and I wore glasses. The same kind that Kendall Jenner wears now.
I’m as shocked as you are that they look great on a model but not on me circa 1996.
Today, I heard some tragic news about a girl I went to middle school with.
Typically, middle school girls are emotional terrorists. Hormonal heat-seeking missiles of malice and insecurity, body spray and poorly-blended eye shadow. I am convinced that drug cartel bosses get their most gruesome ideas from their teenage daughters.
(Sidebar: This is not entirely their fault but that's a conversation for another day. A conversation which involves a lot of yelling about misogyny and the patriarchy)
But this girl - she was kind and friendly. We worked on a science project together. She invited me into her home and I met her mom and brother. I'm pretty sure we got an A.
For a few brief weeks in 1996, my life sucked less because of another person’s kindness and I have always been grateful for her warmth and thoughtfulness during that time.
There are moments in life where people will be kind to you. Without expectation or agenda.
They'll buy you a cup of coffee while you're waiting the drive-thru line.
They will text you Archer gifs when you're having a rough day.
Or in one very specific case - a stranger will cover you with a jacket and put away your book while you fall asleep next to them on a train.
They will make you feel as though you matter. That you are heard, cared for and appreciated.
Sometimes, you will have a chance to repay this kindness but other times, you won't get that opportunity.
Life will get busy and you'll fall out of touch. Your interactions will end up limited to seeing a glimpse of them on Facebook every now and then or a picture of their kids or dog on Instagram.
You should reach out.
If someone treated you with kindness and you have a chance to express some gratitude for it, let them know.
It costs nothing and takes like, zero effort. Five minutes out of your day to tell someone that you appreciated their grace.
I'm going to try and be more conscious of this. Remembering when people are thoughtful and expressing appreciation for their care.
So, if you haven't heard from me in a while and you get a text or Facebook message or email from me, extolling your virtues - just roll with it.
I'm not dying, I'm not in AA and this isn't some Nigerian Prince scam.
I'm just trying to reach out and reconnect to the people were kind to me and deserve a little gratitude in return.
Except for you, Jenny Beckman.
(Her name isn't Jenny Beckman - that's a reference to 500 Days of Summer - but she's real, she made my life miserable in middle school and I hope a seagull shits in her mouth. Oh, what? I'm advocating for kindness, not aiming for canonization).