Wednesday, August 6, 2008

High School.

I promised to share my Indiana epiphanies, but I should know that making promises doesn't work for blogging. Every day is something new, and I can't go back and catch up. The only writing about the past that I seem to be able to do, and I know I do it a lot, is writing about the distant past. But if there are gaps in my chronicle as the present streams relentlessly by, I just have to let them go and start where I am.

And I say all that just to let myself off the hook for not writing in depth about my encounter after 25 years with T, my best friend from high school, while I was in Indiana last month. Short version: T was the friend I did all the bad things with first (drinking, drugs, sex, shoplifting). T was that friend.

I don't trust my memories from that time. I used to assume that high school was a blur for everyone after so many years, but I've talked to people my age who remember clearly. Generally I have poor recollection of long past events. I lose the details, I lose the chronology. I wonder sometimes if it's a result of being so mentally and emotionally fragmented back then. I was one person in my head and heart, another in the world. Broadly speaking, that's the closet. My art teacher had a record-player in her classroom, the old kind that looks like a little suitcase, and for some reason there was only ever one record, the Moody Blues (I can't remember the name of the album, but it was the one with "Never Comes the Day"), and we would play it over and over in her class and I would fight back tears, "If only you knew what's inside of me now / You wouldn't want to know me, somehow."

When was it that we bought a few dozen eggs and ran around campus throwing them at college kids dressed up on their way to a dance? Whose idea was that? And how did we not get caught? If I was only ever half present in any moment, how can I be expected to remember the details?

I can't put things together. There's no through-line. We drank a lot when we were pretty young, even before high school I think, and started smoking pot when we were around 14. We lived in a college town, and it was easy to walk into frat parties and drink whatever was at hand. We'd both been smoking cigarettes since we were about 11 or 12. But midway through high school, I went through an anti-drugs and smoking phase (can you imagine?) and I didn't start smoking or drinking again until near graduation. I did lots of high school theater and those friends were clean-cut and separate from my pothead friends.

T remembers everything, though. He remembers all the mean nicknames we had for people. He remembers the time his father was beating up his older brother because he'd found his rolling papers and T ran down the road to my house and stayed for 2 days. (I remember how worried my mom was.) He remembers that it was him who first taught me how to give head.

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