I remember first going into the woods for a day hike with my dad on a Sunday. We walked along a woodsy path. He taught me about the northward direction of moss growing on trees. I felt the softness of the trail beneath my feet, tasted the warm filtered sunlight.
Your name was Ralph. You were poor, with grimy clothing yet also with a way about you that said, even to my blindness, "Look out world, I'm going somewhere." You were in eighth grade at the public vocational school.
I was in seventh grade. I hadn't known poverty or hunger of a physical nature. I had many bright shiny things. You had a class ring.
You were very proud of that ring. It was yours, from grammar school. Or perhaps it was your dad's. I'm not really sure now. We took to holding hands on the bus. You gave me your ring. I wore it and then lost interest. It went the way of other bright shiny things. I began to take a different bus. I avoided you.
Was it a month later? You dared to come to my front door, rang the bell. "A boy is here for you," my mother sniffed. I went to the door. You asked for your ring back. I told you then, "I threw it out." And shut the door on you. It wasn't until many years later when I remembered and began to understand.