Talk About Getting Raronauer’ed

My first memory of social awkwardness was in 3rd grade. I was in a single file line, and Lee M. was joining the back. He had his hand out as if to slap someone five. At the time, I knew that five wasn’t for me, but I put my hand out anyway. Ben A. was a few feet behind me, and Lee passed my outreached hand to say hi to his friend.

But I wasn’t a total 8 year-old loser. I had a best friend: Emma S., who lived a few blocks away from me. At the time, she had transferred to a private school. A year later she would move to Pittsburgh. But back then, we were best friends in the kind of way where our identity was almost tied to our friendship. Her mother recently claimed that my first word was a mispronunciation of her name, which I doubt but isn’t entirely impossible.

I’m thinking about Emma now because I saw her mother at my mom’s gallery opening last night. Pretty soon upon re-introduction, Mrs. S.—who doesn’t actually go by that name: She’s a psychiatrist and uses her maiden name—told me that before Emma moved to Pittsburgh, I said to her that if she went away, I would never talk to her again. Then she informed me that I followed through on that promise.

In all the wisdom I’ve gained in the past fifteen years, I know doing that is about as shitty as it gets for an 8 year-old. I also realize that for a psychiatrist to remind an adult about crimes she committed as a child isn’t so great either. Still, I feel incredibly guilty. It’s guilt separate from what I feel toward friends whose secrets I’ve revealed or the region of