Felt the healing fingertips
For almost nineteen years I have been a liar. When asked about this, I have never told the truth about these events. Not even once. For about two months after it began, I thought about this all the time. After September 28, 1992, I have not let it cross my mind more than a dozen times.
Teenage boys spend a lot of time thinking about “First _;” “First Kiss,” “First Base,” “First Time,” …and we anticipate them in that order. I was no exception, but the summer before my Junior year of High School I still felt like I was a lifetime away from any of those. I’d had a couple of girlfriends in the “chaste hand-holding and going-steady when there’s nowhere to go” sense of the word, but nothing serious enough to even warrant a reasonable shot at that mythical moment of lip-locking that some of my friends talked endlessly about.
I constantly felt behind, which I know now is a pretty normal state of mind for a teenager. Personally, I had almost no first hand knowledge about “serious” boy-girl relationships; and all my second-hand knowledge was either bragging or hearsay, neither of which were particularly reliable even when coming “from the source.” Compounding that, in a private/parochial/conservative Boarding High School in the early 90s, no one who knew better was actually telling us “the truth.” It was like there was a big secret out there that we were all searching for, and none of us were smart enough to actually compare notes. How much we REALLY knew was a closely guarded personal secret, and discussing it put you at risk for exposing what you didn’t know, and the social tragedy that would ensue. Falling to the status of complete-social-outcast always felt like it was just one mistake away. No one makes a mistake if no one talks about it…so silence was the rule of the herd.
The first time I’ve ever talked about my first time
I have kissed honey lips
The first studio session for Life Drawing 250 was being held in a studio space I’d never been in before, a few blocks off campus in what would otherwise have looked like any other generic office building on any street in the Pacific Northwest. So generic in fact, that I missed it three times and found myself about fifteen minutes behind schedule and in danger of missing the class. If you’re not set up and ready when the doors close, you don’t set up at all.
By the time I found parking three blocks away, hauled my supplies out of the back of the Pulsar, and dodged traffic crossing three streets without waiting for the lights to change, I was out of breath and just trying to dash the last ten yards to the door before I was too late and ended up with a giant hole in my grade.
I saw her coming down the sidewalk from the other direction, clearly in the same hurry I was in, but about fifty feet further away with a duffel bag swinging beside her as she jogged towards me. I remember thinking she looked like the daughter from “My Two Dads” in a grey sweatshirt and jeans and her blond hair pulled back in a scrunchy. She was still a few dozen steps away, but my mommy taught me manners, and no matter what kind of hurry I’m in, I hold a door for a woman.
“Thanks!” she said as she passed through the doorway, flashing me a wide smile and hurrying off down a hallway.
One of the most intimate and confusing events of my life…
But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for
Graduating from a private boarding academy was full of ceremonies I’d never even thought of before. I’d just figured we’d put in four years, show up on a Sunday in late May, listen to some speeches, and get our diplomas. One of the ceremonies I’d never considered was Senior Recognition, an evening about half-way through our Senior year where students were recognized for their achievements and then had a chance to recognize family and teachers who had a significant impact on them.
It was also the night that scholarships were announced. As I had a pretty meager SAT score (1240, 800 verbal – 440 math…odd to think I work in computers and tax accounting isn’t it?) and a reasonable ACT score (32, not great but pretty good) I wasn’t expecting much in the scholarship department. In fact, I’d completely tuned it out.
It’s all about looking a gift horse in the mouth…
But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for
She came up behind me and put her hand on my arm. The shock almost launched me clean off the swiveling studio chair. With the headphones on and the studio door closed I didn’t hear her come in, and I always kept the radio station doors locked on Saturday mornings.
I’d just done the top-of-the-hour news recap and the station call sign, and she was wearing a cream-colored skirt, dark blouse, and a matching cream jacket with shoulder pads that Troy Aikman would have been proud of. It took me a solid three count with my jaw hanging open to figure out that church had just ended and she had come in on her way back to the cafeteria for lunch.
“I didn’t mean to startle you, I thought you heard the outside door close when I came in.”
It was a logical assumption, the self-closing mechanism on the heavy steel door caused a crash that sounded like a truck accident rattling the building when left to its own devices. But between the sound-proof studio and the headphones playing back my own broadcast, I probably could have been oblivious to a nuclear strike atomizing the parking lot behind the station.
Two paths diverge in a wood, this is a glimpse of a path I didn’t take…
Only to be with you
I really didn’t want to go to Gem State Academy. GSA represented a lot of things about my family, my family’s expectations, and my notions of small-town Idaho that I just didn’t want to deal with. I’d made my feelings known, and my mom at least had seemed to respect those wishes. We talked about alternatives, and my parents agreed to let me go to the other major prep school in town, Bishop Kelly.
That last sentence is almost impossible to believe even now, twenty years later.
A really long discourse about where my crazy comes from…
These city walls
For a March morning, it wasn’t particularly cold. Some of the other pedestrians around me on the sidewalks were still bundled up, but most of us were simply in our suit jackets or spring coats. I could see all the way down Wall street to the exchange, with the giant American flag suspended in front of the roman columns above the entry.
I was surprised how narrow Wall Street felt. The huge buildings on either side were towing over us, almost chocking out the grey sky. Across from us was Tiffany’s and Co. and I was almost to the Trump building where I was still early for my appointment on the 37th floor.
As I looked back up the street, I saw it. So out of place in this row of ultramodern concrete and steel behemoths. Dark and gothic, with spires and details almost garish compared to the flat things around it, seemingly made from bricks carved from some kind of blackened sandstone.
Somehow, it silently cried out to the countless bustling people swarming down the sidewalks “Stop! What you are running to is NOT as important as what you will find in here!”
But the people didn’t hear it. They didn’t even seem to see it. Like it was invisible in plain sight.
I made my way to the lobby of the Trump building, but not before taking one more glance over my shoulder up towards Trinity Church at the far end of the street.
A blast of wind blew past me just as I was turning away, coming straight from the old church at the far end of the road. Through the car horns and doormen and taxi callers, I could almost hear something carried on the gust as it washed over me, “…what you will find in here.”
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I have scaled these city walls
We left London on a train out of Paddington Station on a beautiful morning, and the scenery through the train windows was spectacular. These were the final fleeting hours of spring, with flowers blooming, grasses thick in the fields and the lambs playing nose to nose with the rabbits. It was like something out of a James Harriot story.
We wound our way out into the Welsh countryside, changing trains in Cardiff, and pulling into Caerphilly in the early afternoon. We started with lunch in a pub near the train station, Jacket Potatoes and a Ploughman’s Lunch all around.
We decided to walk up to the castle, as it was just a few blocks away. Really just a gentle stroll up ancient avenues and past shops and offices that had seen decades winding into centuries.
A wonderful day gets even better…
I have crawled
I was pretty sure my legs were supposed to move, but I couldn’t get them to even budge. Of course, I couldn’t feel them either, and I was drunk enough I was having a hard time determining where they were supposed to be relative to my arms (which also weren’t working).
The party had started off calmly enough, my cousins had brought me because I was family and they were supposed to be watching me. Early on, one of the girls had the bright idea of giving me a bottle of my own and letting me just hide out of the way watching TV in the host’s parent’s bedroom (the only other room with a TV). I think she probably meant “my own bottle of beer” but instead I ended up with “my own bottle of vodka” and not enough sense to know that I wasn’t supposed to drink it all.
The best Smurfing time a kid can have…
I have run
My legs were starting to burn now, that deep burn where it starts with just a twinge down by the bones and quickly grows into a raging fire that spreads relentlessly. Being in the lead helped a little, but only a little.
I was trying to control my breathing rate, knowing that I only had one lap left to run. I could see most of the runners in front of me, I’d lapped a couple on the second lap and a cluster at the end of the third; and I was pretty sure that I was coming up on the rest of the field – that they weren’t catching me.
Just this fourth lap to go.
Victory and the agony of da feet…
Only to be with you
Everything about the day had felt “off” from the beginning.
The Boise Seventh Day Adventist Church had begun building a new church out past our home on Cloverdale Road, and they had sold the prior church building several months back to provide additional funding in the mean time. We had been renting another church on Saturdays to hold services in, but we couldn’t use it in the afternoons as the Nazarenes had other things scheduled, and well, it was their church after all.
Which was fine, as it had never really felt like our church, so I didn’t regret going somewhere else. But it still felt off.
Now, here we were, getting changed in one of the classrooms in the Eagle SDA Church. I’d never stepped foot in this building before, and now it was the church where I was being baptized. Everything felt off.
I’d listened closely to our instructions, and when we were told to get ready, I took the instruction literally, and wasn’t in the sanctuary when we were supposed to be introduced to the congregation. This apparently led to an awkward moment, but as I wasn’t there, I couldn’t say.
Baptism and the anticipation of newness…