A few weeks ago I was back in my hometown for a family party, and the night before the main event I went out to the bar with my mom and my uncle. I usually run into family friends there, sometimes people I haven't seen for years, but it's rare I see old friends from school, as most of us scattered all over the country after graduation.
So I'm sitting at the bar talking to my uncle and listening to the band, and a pack of bikers come in--not that unusual, as it's a bit of a biker bar. I look them over, vaguely recognize the club name on their jackets, scan them as friendlies and return to my conversation. As soon as they've settled in, the youngest guy in the pack makes a bee-line for me and sticks his hand out, "How you doing, old man?"
Turns out it's my best friend from when we were ten. At the time I was clueless--my mother had actually pointed out someone we passed on the street earlier and said, "You know who that is? That's [Johnny Bluejeans]," about someone who looked completely different, so the last thing I expected was [Johnny Bluejeans] standing before me. Despite attending a small school in a small town, I'd hardly seen the guy since we were little kids, on account of a falling out in the fifth grade. There were a couple of things that lead up to it, all of them adding up to him deciding he wanted to hang out with the 'tough' kids while I was shaping up to be one of the 'smart' kids.
The end of it was when he and another kid, both kept in from recess and left unattended in the classroom, decided to gather items from everyone's desks and hide them in mine. We all come in from recess, and people are telling the teacher for the next hour or two, "I'm missing x y and z." The girl next to me is missing a box of colored pencils. When I eventually have to reach into my desk for something, things don't feel right in there, so I latch onto an unfamiliar object and pull it out: colored pencils. Darling cherub that I am, I turn to the girl and ask, "Are these your colored pencils?" She looks at the box, gives me a scowl, says "Yes!" and snatches it out of my hand, heading for the teacher.
What followed was an inquisition made only marginally more bearable by the fact that the teacher liked me and I was the last one she'd suspect. The whole episode was scarring--I was already The Poor Kid, and now I was The Poor Kid Who Steals. It was the following year that [Johnny] fessed up; we'd already mostly stopped hanging out, but from then on he was dead to me.
So anyway, random encounter in the bar: we didn't have a lot to say to each other, but we basically made peace. That's one less karmic loose-end. Ironically, the guy my mom misidentified as [Johnny] turns out to be someone I still occasionally feel guilty about screwing over when I was seven :P