"You know, even though I had to wear that stupid back brace and you were kind of fat, we were still totally cutting edge."
I don't have many regrets in life. I've made mistakes, sure, but I feel they all helped shape me into a relatively decent, if not slightly off-kilter, person. Yet I do regret something I never did.
Her name was Cheryl and she transferred to my high school as a sophomore. On the very first day of school that year, Cheryl and I were assigned to work as biology lab partners. The girl was ridiculously funny, bubbly, and warm. She was also terrified at the prospect of not knowing a single person in our school of over 2,000 students. Cheryl was kind and accommodated my pathological aversion to dissection. She handled most of the slicing and dicing while I took care of the paperwork.
In many ways, Cheryl should have been placed on a higher rung of the high school social ladder than myself. I immediately recognized this. So when she kept asking me to hang out or do things, I put her off. I figured she would eventually transition into a cooler circle and leave me in the dust.
Sadly, Cheryl never got the chance. She was killed in a car accident as she and a friend from her last school were pulled over on the side of the road. The truck did not see them and hit the car. Cheryl hung on for a few days in the hospital, but eventually died from her injuries.
I have felt guilty about this for almost 25 years. I have thought about Cheryl many times throughout my life, including the day I got married and the first time I held Daniel. These were things she never got a chance to do. What if I had only brought her into our circle of nerds? Offered her a place where she was welcomed and accepted? Maybe she wouldn't have been in that car that day, reaching out to old friends for a little support.
As time went on, I often tried to bring the newbie into my circle. Whether it was the college transfer student, the latest hire at the big insurance company, or the new mom to the block, I tried to make sure nobody went it alone. Even when I didn't "click" with a person, I hooked them up with people who shared their interests or backgrounds. It was the least I could do.
Yet recently, I have gotten complacent. Lazy. It was easier to hang out with my close group of friends who understood each other without explanation. We always know where the punchline is going. We accept each other's baggage. We even started joking around about getting shirts that read "No New People." But that's when Miniature Friend made an important observation:
"You have GOT to get out and hang with people outside your comfort zone and do things you're scared of. You can't spend your entire life walking only into rooms where you know everyone there. If you don't, you are going to miss out on a lot of great people and never even know it."
So last Sunday, I walked into a room where I didn't really know a single person. It was the first rehearsal for the May 5th Listen to Your Mother Show:
|Photo credit: Sabrina Persico|
|Photo credit: Sabrina Persico|
We all got up and took turns reading our pieces. Some of the people I pegged as "serious" were rip-roaringly hilarious. And some of the people I thought for sure were going to be funny tore my heart into a thousand little pieces with their moving readings.
Afterwards? I needed a drink. It was like going on the most thrilling, scary, and unpredictable roller coaster EVER.
As luck would have it, we DID all go for drinks. I was hanging out with people who didn't know me for the first time in forever. Who would I offend with the absence of my verbal filter? These gals would also not understand that I'm slightly deaf, a little blind, and can't remember anyone's names or faces until I have met them exactly 425 times.
It didn't matter. The energy of the group and the different path each woman had taken to arrive at that moment converged to create something special. Something magical. I was welcomed into the circle without question or thought.
So I won't be wearing that "No New People" shirt after all. When I get on stage May 5th, I will again think of Cheryl, Miniature Friend, and this entire experience to help remind me to live a life without regrets.
And I'm confident that nobody will regret buying tickets to attend this amazing show, so think about getting some today! TICKETS HERE.