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Memories from a Month

I was editing a webpage with dates today and wrote "April". For some strange reason, I was reminded of a girl I knew when I was 10 or 11 named April.

I always though it facinating that she was named after a month. How clever of her parents to think "outside of the box" and give her a name that was not all that popular at the time.

I had just moved to the small town into our fantastic family home. As a 10 year old, I thought it was a mansion. I think it was when it was first built in the 1800s.

While there were many kids who went to my public school who lived in nice, 'normal' households, we also were home to the lesser fortunate or as we so lovingly called them 'skids'. Amazing how it's ingrained early on that image and money make you worthy. Or should I say, your parents, material things make you cool. Kids can be so cruel.

Being the 'new kid' in class meant that I wasn't really sure of the cool and not cool lines that had already been drawn in the small public school. April was one of the first people to talk to me. In hindsight, I suppose people who are the outcasts cling to each other and so, she recognized my uncomfortable state and reached out to be my friend.

It's funny to me to think that at that point, I was not yet jaded by popularity - just happy someone was trying to be my friend. It was only later I became obessed with the 'popular group' and friends like April kind of drifted away.

It's also surreal to think, at that age, we had a lot in common. Although, I do remember realizing that we were different.

I remember the first time I went to her house. It was big, old, grungy looking place on a street just around the corner from my house. It was set far back from the road - almost looked like a haunted house or one that an old hermit would live in.

She seemed a bit embarrased, I think, to even let me meet her family. It's a fuzzy memory, but I'm sure that I never met her mother, only heard her scratchy voice, bellowing out 'don't be too late' as she exhaled cigarette smoke.

This was a poingant moment for me. It was when I realized that not everybody had a life I had, with two loving parents, three fun siblings, a cat and a dog. Not everyone was the same. And I, was lucky.

Looking back as an adult, I wonder what torture it must have been for her. Having a mother - no sure where her father was but I think he was still married to her mother - who appeared so uncaring and unloving. And on top of that, to deal with the way kids treated her.

She didn't have many clothes. She used to get made fun of for wearing the same outfits. As we aged, she may have even had B.O.

Our friendship did not last for long. She was a year older than me and at that age, best friends change as much as your underwear.

But I would always say hello to her. I remember the years at 13 and 14 I would say hi in the hall and girls I was with would make a snide remark. "Do you know her? Why?".

I won't say I never did mean things or say horrible words to people but I always had a hard time treating other human beings inhumanely. I'm not pretending to be a saint, it's just the way I have always been. I hate to see people cry. I hate to see people's feelings hurt. And maybe, because being a kid with coke bottle glasses, you're bound to get some teasing, I knew how much words could really hurt. I never wanted to make anyone feel the way I felt by being teased.

Being a kid is hard work. Being a teenager is even harder. You don't have the benefit of normal working hormones or life experiences as an adult to help you recognize the kind of pain you are able to inflict.

I remember seeing April in high school, pregnant, working at the local doughnut shop. She seemed content, but I always wondered what she would become in later years. Another version of her mother? Or would she have learned lessons from that type of behaviour?

I'm sure she's quite happy now. I sometimes wonder what she's up to. I doubt she ever thinks of me. She would probably find it odd that she comes to my mind. And a bit scary.

But most importantly, she reminds me of when I realized that I was lucky. Although I frequently forget how fortunate I am, it's always important to have my memory bank give me a reminder.

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