I have been entirely agnostic about Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination. Republican presidents nominate conservative judges, and Democratic presidents nominate liberal judges. This guy sounded like he was entirely qualified for the job. When Dianne Feinstein made her announcement about the super-secret mystery letter by the anonymous woman that she had sent to the FBI, I thought it was a Hail Mary pass aimed at scotching the nomination, the kind of distasteful tactic that makes people hate politics.
But on Sunday morning, sitting in the Santa Monica Elks Lodge, watching a friend get inducted into the Santa Monica High School Hall of Fame, I took advantage of a lull in the program to scroll through my news feed, and quickly found the Washington Post report that broke the news about Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who wrote the letter. I read about two different psychologists noting that Ford had told them about her distress over the incident long before Kavanaugh was nominated. I read about the polygraph test. She’s telling the truth, I said to myself, in a way that was neither outraged nor political, just matter-of-fact. The event she described is completely believable, but the psychologists’ notes sealed the deal. Maybe some new piece of evidence will come to light to change my mind, but with the facts on the ground as we now have them, I believe her.
When I came home from Santa Monica, a friend dropped by the house. I asked him whether he’d heard the news about Kavanaugh, and he said, “Yeah—but are we really going to hold something he did when he was 17 against him?”
Teenagers make mistakes, some of them serious. One measure of a kid’s character is what he or she does afterward. Take another look at the note at the top of this essay. I can’t remember why I would have asked him to sign my yearbook. He was in my new boyfriend’s circle of friends, so maybe he was at the same parties and events I went to. Reading the note now, as a 56-year-old woman, I think it’s an astonishing thing for an 18-year-old kid to have written; it took courage and self-reflection. But that was not his only apology.
Two years after the yearbook was signed, when I was a far more confident person, and when I was in the midst of transferring from the obscure college to a great university, I had a summer job at a department store. One morning, while ringing up a sale, I saw in my peripheral vision that someone was approaching the register. When I finished the sale, he was gone. A few minutes later, I saw him coming back; it was the boy who’d tried to rape me. He had tears in his eyes, and he seemed almost overwrought. And right there—in the A&S department store in the Smith Haven Mall—he apologized profusely.
“It’s okay, it’s okay,” I kept saying to him. “I forgive you, don’t worry.” It was a weird ambush of intense guilt and apology, and it was the wrong place and time—but the thing was, I really did forgive him. My life had moved on, and things were better. It felt good to get the apology and—as it always does—even better to forgive him. He’d done a terrible thing, but he’d done what he could to make it right. I held nothing against him, and I still don’t.