Monday, February 13, 2017

middle school and friends

social gravity

humans need to touch, to be touched,
even those of us on the spectrum
can feel a pull toward the other,
feel a need to be seen,
to be appreciated,
to be loved,

as our middle school day prepares to get started,
I watch the kids come in,
call to each other,
wait for each other,
girls walk an interior circle in the building:
arm in arm, arm around each other,
one plus one becomes two, then three, maybe four,
boys more loosely clump,
but seek out each other to be near,
to move like a loose flock of birds in the air,
proximity but without the touching,

then it’s time to start the school day in a large circle on the floor,
and a social diagram manifests:
a group of five 12 year olds clumps in front of me in a line,
a minute later joined by another clump of the same group,
two lines joined together as if they’re Legos snapped into one,
all around the circle other groups of 5-10
of the same age, the same gender, coalesce,
sometimes a bit of mixing of age, of gender,
various pairs of friends sit together,
two more who they are than five or ten,
sometimes older with younger,
those whom we’ve paired as mentor-mentee,
some sit alone, and some of those
see the groupings and wish such social gravity pulled them in, too,
some sit with a group, though more in a wish to be included
than in a reality that they fit the bonded truth the group feels,

the herd calls us, and can define us,
God help us if we don’t fit the group or the group fit us,
God help us also to balance our individuality
with the group’s definition of who we are.

by Henry H. Walker

February 15, ‘17

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