Monday, May 02, 2005

High School Yearbook

I pretty much hated high school. I didn't buy a yearbook in my graduating year because I just didn't want to remember the whole ordeal. Part of it was boredom, part alienation, part of it was hormonal turbulence; but most of it was being made to sit in a huge, state-sponsored daycare centre for six hours a day when what I really wanted was to be working on my kickflips, or drawing cartoons for the local newspaper. I'm still glad it's over. A recent browse through the yearbook of one of my schoolmates from the period was nice, but ultimately only affirmed the wisdom of my original decision. As Neitzsche's Zarathustra says, What you can't love, pass by.

So high school sucked, but I survived. I had a firm rule that no matter how bad I felt, suicide was out of the question. I was drawn to the ancient Gnostic thinkers early on, and my reasoning at the time was that no matter how miserable things got, my continued existence would at least serve as a thorn in the craw of the evil demiurgic creator of my oppresive circumstance.

The best day I can remember from that period had nothing in particular to distinguish it from any other. For some reason I simply woke up in an extraordinarily good mood, went to school without reluctance or unction, and had an existentially unremarkable, but entirely happy and satisfying day. Nothing could get me down. I walked through the halls of the school without my trademark slouch, smiling at friend and foe alike and completely blissed out.

I still don't really know what happened to put me in that mood. I wasn't a drug user, so it couldn't have been a flashback. I won't say I was visited by the Holy Spirit, or the Buddhamind, or The Ultimate Pleroma Beyond all the Archons, for that would be attempting to systematize something that properly seems idiosyncratic and personal. I like to think that during that happy day I was simply visited by my own true Self.

The second happiest day of my high school career does have a particular story attached to it, and though in my memory I often conflate it with the day described above, they were truly two different occasions. My best friend during those years was named Frank. He went to a different school, and he was a mysterious fellow. It was hard to figure out exactly where he lived, who his parents were, or if he even had any. His entire past life, present mission, and future direction were extremely ambiguous. It seemed that the whole of his spurious existence was focused entirely on the moment, and that, I suppose, was something of his appeal.

One day I wore my motorcycle boots to school. They had been given to me by a friend, who had gotten them from someone else, but it was common knowledge amongst my circle that they originally belonged to the boyfriend of a certain girl, and this boyfriend was known as the most authentically Punk Rock guy in the whole town. So the boots had a certain cachet, even though I didn't ride--or even particularly like--motorcycles. Perhaps the biggest appeal of the boots for me was that they went glaringly against the preppy fashion sense, of Lacoste sweaters and Calvin Klien jeans, that held sway over the majority of my peers.

The boots were black, with big silver buckles for the various straps that held them together. They went almost up to my knees, and they had battered metal protective plates over the shins. I wore them to school on a whim, expecting that I would be laughed at, but thinking that it would at least combat some of the sense of relentless boredom that continually dogged my friends and I.

It so happened that there was some sort of multi-school assembly that day--I can't remember what the particular function of it was--but as I was stomping through the auditorium in my boots, who should appear but Frank, his dishevilled hair and crooked-toothed grin suddenly materializing from out the sea of faces! It was weird enough that we should happen upon each other amongst all the hustle and bustle. Frank was the kind of guy whom you could go several weeks without hearing from. When he was around he was around, and you enjoyed his company all the more for its unpredictability.

When we met up that day I don't think I even said a word by way of greeting, but merely pointed toward my footwear. The next instant we both broke out in such an uproarious peal of laughter that kids around us likely became jealous for whatever it was they thought we had been smoking. Frank and I spent the rest of that afternoon walking through the halls of the school, I dragging my massive boot heels across the sickly orange shag that carpeted the hall floors back then, and the both of us laughing like maniacs at the blank stares and lame comments we attracted from the uncomprehending mobs.

So those are two of my best memories from what might be called the worst days of my life. There was also a time in grade 13 when, on a whim, I sought out refuge from the Remembrance Day ceremonies in the English department's communal office, only to find all of my favourite teachers already hiding out there as well. That was pretty rad.


em said...

Your highschool did suck.
I know it because...
"Orange orange is the colour I see. If you see orange then tell it to me."

It may reasure you to know that suicide was an option, and it didn't help at all.

mondo retro said...

what's REALLY rad is that your school had orange shag carpet!!

ahhhh, i love high school stories! i love that we both have long-lost franks in our lives!