Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Elementary school’

The Reunion

August 2, 2013 Leave a comment

The Reunion

INVISIBLE!
INVISIBLE!

I just woke up from an almost impossibly happy dream.

INVISIBLE!
INVISIBLE!

It took place in my childhood backyard (albeit expanded to hold the scene), and it was simple, as simple as can be, without plot, or storyline, or framework. All it was, was a reunion of people I’ve known, an endless stream of happy, laughing, delighted people from my past, streaming in groups through the open glass doors from the living room out into the backyard. Most of them were from my high school, with Matt Kuchinsky’s laugh echoing above them all, plus a number from elementary school besides, and even a cadre of my older brother’s friends from before he moved away to England, eleven years ago. There may have been hundreds of people, many of whom I don’t even remember their names, stepping out of my house’s glass doors and into the backyard to the joyous cheers of others who knew them, sitting down in the grass and conversing, laughing, grinning from ear to ear, most people dressed their best in suits and long, colourful dresses. High school social groups (to which I didn’t think I belonged), people I entered into French Immersion with when I was twelve, people whose faces were welcome but with whom I couldn’t recall ever having a good conversation.

INVISIBLE!
INVISIBLE!
Our Hedge

One of the first digital photos I ever took, back in April 2001.

INVISIBLE!
INVISIBLE!

If there was any exclusivity to this reunion, it may have been that they had to be people I might now consider obscure – not individuals from my seven years at university, but all of them from times before all that. This wasn’t a gathering of the people who mean the MOST to me – indeed, were that the case, there were many conspicuous absences (though my mother WAS there, with a few remarks just undercutting enough to make me chuckle), but instead, a gathering almost entirely of people I haven’t seen in years, many in over a decade, still flaunting their personalities somehow, Kieran Watson still sheepish-but-charming, Aisha with a dazzling grin, my brother’s friends still somehow a foot taller than I, still moving together like a friendly wolf-pack. And The Reunion made no pretence of being anything other than what it was – it told me it was a dream, it shouted its dreamness to me, and just asked that I accept it and embrace it. If I looked in one direction and then turned back, the landscape of people changed. In the middle of it all, I found myself occasionally trying to think of someone obscure, then of course found them in the crowd, OF COURSE they were here, smiles all around.

INVISIBLE!
INVISIBLE!
Karlee and Aisha and I.

Karlee and Aisha and I.

INVISIBLE!
INVISIBLE!

The sky itself was an undulating shift of colours, though mostly blue. As it turned a beautiful, luminous wave of greens, I knew the gathering neared its end. I turned to Emily Lomas – again, someone I haven’t seen in I don’t know how long – and offered a hug, but she and a number of other ladies were now in tall, layered, green dresses fit for royalty at a ball, dressed up to leave. She mentioned something about how the dress would poke at her, and when I turned back, the rest of the backyard had emptied, and the sky was a deep, bright green, and I knew it was over. I opened my eyes.

INVISIBLE!
INVISIBLE!
And more, and more, and more.

And more, and more, and more.

INVISIBLE!
INVISIBLE!

I know dreams don’t necessarily have meanings, that they are often a connection of whatever we were thinking of last before we slept, synapses firing and connecting almost at random to form something the brain tries to collect and cohere, but…

INVISIBLE!
INVISIBLE!

But this felt like something, The Reunion itself, perhaps, was trying to tell me something. Or show me something. Or perhaps just reassure me that for all that I’ve forgotten, there exists a monument to old tribes, an endless stream of so very many happy, lovely, wonderful echoes of individuals sitting in a grassy backyard somewhere in the back of my brain, laughing and chatting and cheering, unforgotten, delighted to be there, having the best time of their lives.

INVISIBLE!
INVISIBLE!

And why were they all so happy?

INVISIBLE!
INVISIBLE!

Why was it all so happy?

Enhanced by Zemanta

Why I Trust Strangers (and hope you do too!)

March 9, 2012 3 comments

A Matter of Trust

Image via Wikipedia

 

I can honestly say that I spent much of my time at elementary school as a miserable coward. As I wandered alone, step by step, along the concrete dividers outside my school each recess and lunch, my mind raced with intimidating scenarios.

What if that boy decided to fight me? What if they swarmed me with insults and pushed me? What if they approached me, cracking their knuckles? What could I do?

I was constantly figuring out escape routes, deciding whether or not I could outrun them, or reach that teacher in time, or the classroom, or safety, somewhere, anywhere.

(It’s worth noting that I was never punched once. Did get shoved into a bush. Was bit once. But that one was my fault.)

If I was walking on my own, dark, light, day, night, whatever, I would imagine muggers emerging from every shadow, and I would continually run scenarios over and over in my head. That’s one reason why I bought an mp3 player: So I could have something else in my head as I went from point A to point B other than running through what would happen, were I attacked.

In every scenario I ran through, I either ran away… or more rarely imagined myself getting the piss beaten out of me.

Eventually, I came to realize that this wasn’t healthy. Certainly not a useful use of my time. But I that realization alone didn’t cut it out entirely. No. I thought the healthiest thing was to make sure that when I envisioned these… ruminations… that I would imagine myself ‘winning’ the encounter. With tact and compassion, I would employ myself like a master hostage negotiator and defuse the situation (okay, or sometimes with physical intimidation, grabbing the right weapon around me). Then they would give in, reform, and become a better person.

Seriously.

My poor baby.

But that wasn’t healthy either. And whenever someone stole something from me, or I lost something (which amounted to the same thing in my mind), I became angry. Spiteful. The loss of my poor M:TG Lightning Dragon really ate me up.

Then, BOOM! Moment of clarity. Shining, shimmering splendid! I realized how I could solve both of these problems – my constant scenario-making, and my anger. I had a choice to make.

I chose to trust strangers. And everyone else. To assume that they were good people. To assume that the man in the shadows would have a kind heart. To assume that no one would have stolen my hat – I must have left it somewhere, or someone must have taken it by mistake. An honest error, t’is all. Well, that’s alright. They can have it.

And if it really was stolen? They must need it more than I do.

This past December, I got in trouble with a lady’s parents when, at the end of a dinner spent at their place, I asked if she could show me the way to the bus stop. Because I didn’t know where it was, and needed to get home. (That, and having a minute alone with her would have been nice.)

Well, apparently that doomed me to their bad books for life, because once I got on that bus, she had half a block to walk back to her place. At night. In a suburban area. Horrors upon horrors.

And yes, being a man, the potential dangers are different for me. But living to the point of being afraid of walking half a block away from one’s home… I am so glad I don’t live like that anymore. So glad that I can enjoy the solitude of a good walk, or be happy to see an unknown face on the street.

The world is safer, less violent, more peaceful, than it has ever been. I will admit, however, that the dangers and evil deeds of the world are better reported than ever before. So I don’t watch the news, other than a feed on politics, science and technology. There’s always hope on those fronts. (Yes, even in politics. From time to time.)

Once I chose to trust in strangers, I stopped worrying about mythical muggers and became a much happier man, and that trust has been repaid countless times, over and over again. I highly recommend it.

Lightning Dragon (Photo credit: Jon_Tucker)

Cheers,
Andrew Wade

My First Play.

January 17, 2011 2 comments

Me, in grade three.

My first word was ‘no’.

As a toddler, I wouldn’t let me mother hug me – I would squirm and squeal and try to get away, to the point where she could use a hug as a sort of ridiculous form of punishment. I was a difficult child.

Come elementary school, not too much had changed. I was miserable, with a childhood belief that everyone was out to get me, everyone a potential threat. I would wander around the school at recess, dreaming up scenarios of ‘if that person picks a fight with me, I can do this, and run there.’ Not that I was actually bullied much, but I believed I was, and imagined a grand social ladder with me and a couple of other people right at the bottom of it. And I felt it was better for people to know me and dislike me, than not to know me at all (my ‘rep’, as I would say).

Well, one innocent day in grade three, the opportunity came up to audition for the school play, The Littlest Christmas Tree. To this day, I still don’t know why, but I felt an urge to go audition. So I did. The audition consisted of going into a classroom where music was playing, and to dance to the music.

Apparently I had quite the moves (which I don’t), or the teachers just liked me (which they did), or I was the shortest kid there (which I was), but regardless of their reasoning, I got cast as the lead, title character. I became The Littlest Christmas Tree.

In the play, the older, larger trees taunt and tease The Littlest Christmas Tree, tell him how worthless he is, how he can’t do anything for anyone. Then, of course, the Littlest Christmas Tree gets picked. It wasn’t much of a stretch to act as though I felt persecuted. My only memory of actually performing the piece is the older trees walking in a ring around me, singing an insulting song about how mediocre I am, with me sitting in the centre of the stage, looking up at them with a mixture of grief, fear, and dejection.

What came at the end of the show was the biggest surprise of my young life. See, I hadn’t even thought about it – about how the play might be received. So I was taken aback when it ended… and the whole school, hundreds of students cramped into a small gymnasium, applauded. And cheered. All the way up to the grade sevens in my elementary school, WHO GOT TO SIT ON BENCHES AND CHAIRS. Yes, those ancient gods.

And as I stepped off the stage, they held out their hands, these BIG KIDS, like a row of welcome branches to either side of me, lining the walkway to the gym’s exit. So as I jogged out of that gym, I high-fived dozens of strangers, all so much cooler and more notable than I was. For that one moment, I was known, I was liked, I was… better than I thought I was.

Reflection? This means my theatrical ambitions grew partly from a desire for fame and recognition, which is not an ideal reason to be an actor. That said, it also came from that inexplicable urge to audition, to act.

And I am grateful.

Enhanced by Zemanta