Not Forgotten

(28 October - 21 November, 4 December 1993) after John Greenleaf Whittier

Richard in Montana could get to sleep only with a clock that ticked loudly, but he amazed me each morning at school with another way my father could get to work up Judith Mountain— Richard was a genius and I didn’t ask why he chose to confide in me, although I would say it was because I didn’t fit in either. What did he think after the others piled on me until, trying to breathe, I panicked and ran, not looking back? Maybe he didn’t know what happened, only that I kept more to myself, unforgiving. Maybe he had moved back to Texas by then. At high school in Lewistown, suddenly a tall awkward Freshman, I chose a game that I could win; I became a straight-A student among boys who had grown up together compensating in many ways for their feelings of inadequacy, wanting to be big people in a small town. Was it me and my backwardness? Was I too smart to play their games? Was I a victim of small-town protectiveness, an alien whom only the adolescent intellectuals could value? I’m sick with forgetfulness. If I had been asked, I would have said this wouldn’t be my home town; these wouldn’t be my lifelong friends. My boyhood friends—I had no boyhood friends, only boys whom I knew for a while.