I like to throw things away because I like to shed my past. I take a perverse pleasure in getting rid of books, personal records, my S.A.T. scores and my report cards from my junior year of high school. With those report cards go my memories of my utter lack of compassion for the fat girl who was on the fringes of the group I hung with. She was annoying. She misjudged the tone of conversations. She was fat. She never looked anyone in the eye and when she talked to someone she would stare at the top of their head; a characteristic we made ruthless fun of between ourselves when she wasn’t there. Now I wonder what she was avoiding when she never made eye contact? What she didn’t want to see in our faces. I don’t have to wonder much.
She got pregnant after high school. I lived in a nearly segregated white town (there were two black families who had high school age kids. They were accepted because they were utter novelties, and we expected them to act completely white except for when they were black in ways that we approved of or that entertained us.) The fat girl’s boyfriend was black, although we never met him and I don’t even know if ‘boyfriend’ is an accurate term. He got her pregnant. Maybe she lived with him, maybe not. I was in college. Of the five of us, three were in college. One was married and working. And she was a single mom with a mixed-raced child in a small racist southern Ohio town. (One or two of the kids I went to school with probably had fathers who were in the Klan.)
I wanted to leave that town and she represented everything I feared and hated. And I hated her for it. I’m very happy to throw away a lot of the memorabilia from my high school.