By Peter

I just attended my 30th high school reunion. There were lots of people from my elementary school there, which went from kindergarten through eighth grade. We talked about the second grade teacher who could make anything out of paper mache, the mad-science teacher, the terrifying but talented math teacher, and the captivating English teacher who went on the $10,000 Pyramid game show and won.

At the end of the evening, this is what jumped out at me about this elementary school group: we truly liked each other. I would spot someone in the room, and I would immediately know who it was, and all those feelings of affection would come back in a rush. There were several forces at play to separate us: some of us were Jewish, others were Catholic; some of us were middle class, others were working class. We could tell the difference, but it didn’t stop us from liking each other. As I look back, even the toughest kids would show signs of warmth and friendship when I did not expect it.

Back then, I could tell I liked people, but I often could not tell I was liked. I was shy, I rarely found the words to say anything, and I was sure people took it the wrong way. I found schoolwork easy, and I was sure people resented me for it. I was quiet and felt invisible, and I was sure no one would remember me. But at the reunion, people recognized me at once, and they seemed as delighted to see me as I was to see them. My old feelings were simply wrong.

This aspect of my personality shows up in Joshua, my main character, and Amanda is capturing it so beautifully. Joshua finds himself in a place where everyone is different from him, and the idea that its inhabitants would like him and want to be friends with him seems inconceivable. He is distrustful and disbelieving of their attraction to him. It will take a long time for him to change his mind, but hopefully not as long as it took me.