Heads Up!

I remember walking home from school starting in first grade. It was normally with my brother, who is 2 years older. But at some point, which is fuzzy in my memory, I was walking alone.

I remember making friends easily in first grade. One in particular, a girl who lived around the corner from me. We had fun. One night in third grade during a sleepover at her house, holding our Cabbage Patch Kids, we dialed 0 on the telephone and sang “Operator, Operator, on the line . . .” to whoever answered. Those were good times. But one day I went to her house to play and she said, “I’m not your friend anymore. Go home!” I demanded to know why. She couldn’t or wouldn’t tell me. Her brother, a professional BMX bicycle rider, chased me home- on his bike while I ran.

Years later (junior high age) I was walking home alone as usual. Walking, as I did, with my head down- watching my feet. I was just about to turn the last corner approaching my house when some people turned the corner walking toward me in the opposite direction. When our paths crossed, I heard a vaguely familiar laugh. As I looked up, the friend who had rejected me years earlier spit in my face.

I realized then, that walking with my head down prevented me from seeing what was aiming at me. I have walked with my head up ever since. Ready to face whatever is coming in my direction head on. Or should I say- head up?

I wonder what would have happened if I had looked her in the eye when she turned that corner. If I had the appearance of confidence rather than the hung head of the rejected.

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