Tuesday, May 23, 2006

I'd thank you if I could find you, Kelly Shanks

How do I find a girl that I knew as a child/teen? All I have is her name (she may have changed it through marriage) and the town where she grew up? She doesn't live there any more.

We both grew up in Bloomington, Indiana and attended Elm Heights Elementary School (doesn't exist anymore) and Binford Middle School (doesn't exist any more). Her name is (was) Kelly Shanks. Her family moved away (I don't know where) just before high school. I don't know the names/occupations of any family members. She's not listed on Classmates.com. I posted about her on Classmates.com's message-boards, but on one knows anything about her. That's all the info I have. Is there any way to find her with so little information? Private detective? How much would that cost?

Bckstory: in Middle School (1977-1979), I has the scapegoat. I was short, bookish, unathletic and late going through puberty. I had almost no friends, and the popular kids started picking on me. Soon, the kids who wanted to be popular started picking on me. Then it became sort of a school rule: if you didn't pick on me, you'd be picked on yourself. There were horrible days when, during lunch, I had to hide from the whole school. It's disgusting and unforgivable, but the teachers did nothing (some of them even joined in) and, like many kids, I refused to tell my parents about my social status.

Believe it or not, I wasn't depressed that I was unpopular. I've always had an independent mind, and I disliked the popular kids and had wouldn't have joined their group even if they had invited me. But I didn't want to be constantly mocked, picked on, beaten up, etc. I just wanted to be left alone.

The worst part of all this is that -- to protect myself -- I developed a cynical attitude towards people, especially towards girls, because they taunted me more than the boys did. I started taunting back, and learned how to say just the right things to make girls cry. It took me years to learn to like people again. Eventually, I did grow out of this stage and became a reasonably popular, reasonably well-adjusted adult.

But during the worst period, ONE girl was nice to me. She was popular and had a lot to lose by treating me with kindness instead of disdain. I was so bitter by this point, I would just grunt at her when she smiled and asked me how I was doing. I may have even been mean to her. But she was persistently nice to me. Not intrusive. She would just throw a friendly comment at me when we saw each other.

All these years later, I hardly remember anyone from back then. I've forgotten names, faces and conversations. But I remember her. Her actions meant a lot, even though I couldn't acknowledge them at the time. When I came out from under my cynical cloud, it was partly my memory of her that allowed me to believe people were capable of kindness. I've always wanted to thank her, but I have no idea how to find her.

[Note: to stave off any confusion, I'll mention that I'm happily married and not looking for a relationship. And it's fine with me if Kelly doesn't remember who I am. It's been years and years, and I probably didn't mean that much to her to begin with. She's probably just a nice person who treated everyone like that.

I only want to get in touch with her to thank her. I've always felt like I SHOULD have thanked her. It feels like unfinished business.]

My history with boys.
My history with girls.