First

I was the first.

I did not know it at the time. In fact, I did not know what I was doing at all. I merely tried to fit in, doing what I thought was the proper thing to do at the time. The fact that no one else had done it before only goes to show how clueless I was – I didn’t even know that I did the opposite of what I intended to do. I did not fit in; that goes with being a first, as it were.

It was only later, upon a revisit many years, that I discovered that it had become a thing. At the time, my local friend smoothly removed me from the situation, apologizing profusely, explaining how I was a foreigner and didn’t know these things. Imagine my surprise, then, when I discovered that the very thing I did in that initial state of confusion was now the traditional and proper thing to do. The expected thing to do.

I asked my friend if she remembered the event. She did not. She did, however, recount the rise of the particular action into habit. It did not happen slowly, gradually, over time, but rather it suddenly willy-nilly was the proper thing to do. At some point, everyone did it, and some even claimed to always having done it. It became always-already faster than it really ought to.

There is no way for me to prove I was the first, of course. The only thing I have to go on is my recollection of that one first time. But let me tell you – by the look on the faces of those who saw me failing to blend in, they had never seen such a blatantly improper thing done before. I was the first.

It is a small legacy, but I claim it.

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