I remember dirty looks as well as I remember unkind words.
When I was a young child I remember staying at my grandparents. They lived across the street from the grade school and there was some sort of school fair event. I remember being there. And having cotton candy. I remember walking back ‘home’ to the grandparents and passing a woman who gave me a very dirty look. You know that kind of “disgusted” look people can give one another with the sneer on their face and a look down their nose at you. I didn’t know why. When I got to my grandma’s they didn’t give me dirty looks. They kind of chuckled. Apparently I was covered in cotton candy. Clothes. Hair. Arms. It occurred to me that the lady thought I was a dirty little kid. I remember feeling like a dirty little kid.
When I was in grade school I remember being at a school holiday program. After the program there were many of us still there. Hanging out. Enjoying being at school when it wasn’t really school. A group of us gathered around a piano for someone who was playing songs. I look across from me and one of my classmate’s sister was standing there. She was Down Syndrome, I think. I’m not sure. I remember she was one of the “Special Children”. I smiled at her. We were all there in the Christmas spirit. It was a happy setting. The principal of the school was there, next to this young girl. The young girl pulled on his sleeve, and to my horror, told him I was laughing at her. He soothed her and shot me dirty looks. My heart still hurts thinking about that. That she thought I was laughing at her. And that he thought I was capable of laughing at her.
After high school I moved away from my ‘home town’. I got married. I got heavy. I got very heavy. I can’t tell you how many dirty looks I got when I was at my heaviest. And I can’t tell you how many times my world seemed full of faces frowning at me.
That’s what I saw looking out.
And what was seen looking at me?
I am sure there are those who have crossed my path in life who when they were looking out from where they were, I appeared to be looking in, to where they were. And I know that having lived as long as I have, I have shot from my face, my own fair share of dirty looks.
I try very hard to reflect on what it is I do, and who it is I am, and want to be. For every hurt or wrong I feel I have encountered I want to stop and pay attention. I don’t want to be righteous and indignant about wrongs inflicted on me. Not as much, anyway, as I want to pay attention to what hurt me to see if I have done the same to others.
And those dirty looks I received in my life are not near as painful to me as the dirty looks I gave.