I sat in the car with him for hours. Talking. Confessing. Crying. Laughing. Cursing. Wishing.
We got to talking about the innocence that left us when we entered high school.
I said, "It's strange how things seem to be so normal when we're young. Like we never noticed that anything was ever wrong. My parents always seemed to be perfectly happy. There was no war, no sadness, no poverty. It wasn't until I got older that I realized how crazy the world really is. Like my eyes were opened and I saw the fighting and the sadness and the anguish that sits inside of everyone."
Then, he said, "Isn't it interesting that, when we're young, things are so simple. So perfect. It's not until we're older that we understand how to read between the lines. I think everyone has a time where they hit a wall. Everyone has a specific moment where they suddenly understand that the world isn't a simple or happy place. The moment of understanding is different for everyone. But we all have it. It's called 'growing up.' And it changes everything."
I laughed. And probably kissed him.
While alone, I started thinking about what he said.
He's right. Of course.
I thought back on my past,
and remembered what I believe to be my moment of understanding.
I was in 9th grade. In my english class. Sitting at my desk in the very back of the room in the corner. I'm sure it was a very typical day.
I probably fought with my mom. Probably had a peanut butter sandwich for lunch. Probably complained about my younger siblings. Probably wrote a note to my BFF about whatever boy(s) I was crushing on at the time.
I'm sure it was (up until english class) a very average day in the life of a 9th grade girl.
Anyway. English class.
My teacher divided us into groups and instructed us to discuss the first few chapters of the new book we were reading as a class.
I began chatting with my group about the book. Then probably about what I did the weekend before. And whatever else young teenagers talk about when given a co-ed discussion experience.
My attention left the group for a moment, and I looked toward my teachers desk. She was sitting there, looking at graded papers, behind her picture frames and lap top computer. No one was paying attention to her. Everyone was focused on chatting (probably not about the book) with their groups.
I was the only one who noticed that she was silently sobbing, doing her best to hide her face from the occupied students. Her body was slightly shaking and she had her hand over her face.
Group discussions went on for another fifteen minutes, giving her time to get ahold of herself and fix her appearance.
Still, to this day, I have no idea what was the matter or why she was so upset.
But I do know that this was my "grow up" moment.
I realized that teachers were not robots that shut down at the end of the day and restarted each morning.
And people have problems.
No one saw her breakdown-episode except me. And I told no one what I saw.
This was the moment of understanding for me.
People have problems and life is a pain.
And that was my moment.
Everyone has that moment.
And I'll never forget mine.