I remember inviting a friend from high school to my place after school. As we approached the large public high school just three blocks from my apartment I saw my friend begin to pale. The closer we got, the more nervous she became. I guess I looked right past some of the rougher edges of my neighborhood, but she was quite entirely focused on every one of them. She tried desperately to maintain conversation while slowly using the automatic controls on the driver's side to roll up all the windows in the car and lock the doors. I was at once bemused and saddened.
I have no recollection of how long she stayed at my place that day or what we did, only that I never invited her back. I never invited anyone from high school to my house.
I thought about that today when I received a note from a broker who's doing an invitation-only open for a place across the street from that same public high school. List price? Let's just say I couldn't afford to live there anymore. I now live in a more affordable area, pretty close to where that high school friend lived. Isn't that funny?
I remember later, in my junior year of high school, I had another friend insist on driving me home after we'd gone out to do something. I was already in the car so I frantically raced through my options - have her drive to someone else's house? feign nausea and vomit to distract? lie and say I was going to work and then take the bus from there? I couldn't think quickly enough and absurdly blurted out my actual address instead.
She took me home, windows down, music blaring, chewing and chatting all the while. When we stopped in front of my apartment she stopped smacking her gum for a moment, looked up at the building and said something like, 'You live here? Nice. See you tomorrow!' And back she went to making a job of that gum.
She is my son's godmother.
There are a few kindnesses in my life I don't - won't - forget, no matter what comes after. I remember them always and still, still they bring me comfort.
Don't forget to be kind. It matters immensely.