There is, in the farthest corner of my memory, the recollection of complete betrayal, humiliation and isolation. And it comes at the hands of my family.
Among its members, one of the eldest cousins, Pol, is known to be a jokester, to me, intimidating in his stature, as he is very tall, and fit, and his successes in acadmics, sports and career. He is a well-rounded guy, witty, sharp-tongued, admired by us cousins younger than him. The others always did say that growing up, You don’t know this, T, but growing up, Pol was a real dick. And they would laugh as they recounted that time Pol was so mean, my brother just bit him.
I was in elementary school making daily trips to grandmama’s after class, when Pol, who didn’t do this very often, came to visit grandmama. So it was Pol, and me, and my sister and K.E. and Raf, and we were recounting stories and laughing when I said, giggling, The others told me when you were younger, you were a dick.
But nobody laughed. The three young ones turned their blank gazes toward me, and Pol glared, mouth set, eyes dead, and it was quiet. Don’t you remember? I asked the others, who were there when we shared stories over a game of President, and I was made the asshole, the loser, the dork, and I crawled away to let the kids play with the cool cousin, while I became the alien.
Pol said good bye to me when he left, though I never rejoined them. We hugged and I don’t think I apologized.
I have never felt comfortable in Pol’s presence, burdened by the guilt and the resentment of that singular moment. When I visited the city up North, to where he moved, and he asked me why I didn’t visit, I didn’t tell him any of this, and I didn’t feel bad about it for long.
I think about this moment a lot.