I was listening to This American Life the other night. The topic of the week was middle school, and they interviewed an 11 year old boy who had just begun attending. Middle school sucks. I know that, and I’ve never been; that’s how bad it is:
Boy: “It’s harder to make friends now. It’s easier when your younger, but it’s harder now.”
Host: “Why do you say that?”
Boy: “When you’re older you judge people more, what they look like, stuff like that, and it’s harder. But when you’re younger you don’t think about that, you just meet someone and you’re friends.”
And I experienced the most poignant of moments where the crevices of some of life’s mysteries are suddenly illuminated, and you remember.
I say remember because I was young once. There was a time when I was knee high to a grasshopper, and I understood the world better. The world and I are better acquainted now, but that’s the catch; I can’t forget the things I’ve learned to judge. Nobody my age comes up to me in a public place, does something funny and ends up being my pal for the day. What I would do to have one day back as a kid and to remember how it was to boldly enter a sea of other faces, being confident that someone would be my friend no matter what. We would do everything together, because that’s what friends do. We would ignore the fact that the other chews loudly, or seems to suffer some sort of colorblindness that is revealed in their fashion choices, or if they’re ugly, or if their parent’s are poor. Because, heck, they don’t take a moment to notice those things about you, because you’re both mutually oblivious to the tiers of social standards that will soon eclipse your adult years. I remember having the nerve to walk up to people and be friends with them.
I think I was a lot wiser when I was small. . . not in the sense of the wisdom you gain from experience, or pain, but that wisdom that allows you to believe good things without exception. That people are fun. That they would never intend to hurt you, or do bad things. Believing someone else enjoys you just as much as you enjoy them.