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high school

From Bryan:
High school; tell me about it.
You felt like an outcast, no?
Where did you channel your energy or creativity?
Why did you feel like an outcast?
Lack of popularity?
Why do you think you were unpopular?
Did you feel like becoming an adult left you fitting in better?
Do you still feel like an outcast?
What changed?
What didn't?
What do you want to change?
Why do you think it has not?
How do you feel about Jasper going to public school?
What do you intend to warn him about?


Yes, I felt like an outcast. Sometimes I felt like it was some intentional thing, that whenever I surfaced, people were repulsed or simply failed to get me. A lot of it, however, was feeling like I didn't surface, I was ignored, and was not interesting to anyone. I was not interested in the things that most kids my age appeared to be interested in. I wanted friends, but there just weren't available the kinds of people with whom I wanted to hang out.

In junior high I'd managed to pseudo-insert myself into a group or two of gals, but it was by my efforts, and I never felt the interest reciprocated. I think I knew I didn't identify with any of them very much, but they were relatively accepting and/or familiar. In high school, those groups had mostly disbanded and reconfigured, and while I think there might have been phases of people I'd sit with at breakfast or lunch, I never felt like I was a significant member of a group that anyone would miss. I was kind of weird and intense, it seemed, and no one resonated with me. I felt kind of objectified and isolated by virtue of who I was.

The dominant extracurricular theme was orchestra. I started playing viola in sixth grade, continued through junior high, and was section leader from my junior (sophomore?) year on in high school. I was also the orchestra vice president, and then president my senior year... at least I think; it was so bloody long ago! I put a lot of energy into this. I was very passionate and serious about music and about playing in an orchestra.

I was part of all the extra-extracurricular gigs and ensembles. I also played in the regional professional symphony my junior and senior years, though never making past the last chair, which was fine. At regional and statewide events, I still felt incredibly inferior to other violists and musicians in general. I was rather good, but not great, and memorizing sheet music, the next big step in my growth as a musician, proved a formidable opponent to me. I felt deflated and defeated.

My social interactions were almost exclusively generated through orchestra. There was a strong unit of buddies in the class ahead of me, though I never really could get my foot in the door with them. I lusted after their familiarity and inclusiveness with one another, even though I didn't always like them that much. I crushed on a couple guys really hard, but aside from one ill-fated letter, I never acted outwardly on them. My last year, I had several freshman in my section who were genial and looked up to me a bit, but that ended when class or rehearsal was over. I'd formed a decent bond with my director, whom I'd known through church and family prior to high school, but it wasn't a reliable source of attention and support.

My junior and senior years, I also began taking art at school. It was fun, though also limited, and I was rather good at it, but my classmates in those two or three classes were of absolutely little to no social value to me. I was me; this "weird" person who was really intellectual, formal, intense, goofy, and bizarre. Some of this picture of me was largely about being from a caucasian academic family, rather than the "normal" hispanic working-class one.

I think one of the strongest things that kept me from associating with my peers, beyond just not resonating with them, the kinds of people I'd wanted to associate with simply not extent, were some of the moral beliefs I held. Though they were largely influenced by my then devotion to Christianity, in my own personal, intense, and strange way, they were things that made sense to me, as me.

I was bent on being abstinent until I was married or really darn close to it. While I had sexual impulses, they were not overbearing, and my mind, my beliefs, and my upbringing left me kind of horrified of sex. I think I'd hoped it could be beautiful and intimate, but it seemed it was so often ugly and base. I felt polarized against a [Mexican-American border] culture which paid lip service to condemning sexual promiscuity, but more often condoned if not encouraged it.

Alcohol and drug use seemed to stir the same kind of shit.

Writing all of this, while I feel a little defensive about coming across as a prude, as per usual, I feel pride. I think I knew myself and what was right for me... and I was just lonely. I've always been more intense and sensitive than the average bear; my emotional, spiritual, and intellectual intelligences leaving me practically peerless. I had less than a handful of meaningful friendships, and did my very best to nurture them. High school was not the best environment for me, though I still survived and grew.

In a way living in Seattle, specifically when it comes to the other twenty-somethings, is not wholly dissimilar from high school. I want in, because I want to be accepted, appreciated, loved, but not necessarily with the people that are out there, partly because they just can't. I still meet new people, strike up conversations with people, do my best to be accessible and available, and generally extend and accept invitations to connect... but it's been rare to feel the kind of connection my soul is yearning for. It's been less and less rare, thankfully, but that isn't saying a whole lot.

I think I've grown a shit-ton, especially during this vast nadir in my life's narrative. I've come to love and accept myself a great deal, though I'm not at all done yet :) I'm more compassionate and more open; growth and attributes that I'm also proud of. I think those things help me to better find contentment wherever I am, with or without companions. This is not to say, however, that I am unresponsive or immune to loneliness, loss, or adversity. Fuck no.

I'm remember how, for so long, it's been very important to me to find a life partner. This was a desire extent and vibrant even in high school. I worry that there's something stagnant or even escapist about this central desire and the desires that radiate from it, such as those for children, hearth-space, etc. It's not, though, is it? It's me knowing myself, knowing my heart's desire. And my concept of a marriage or life-partnership has evolved and matured, and of that I am incredibly proud. I just need him to show up.

As for my son... Christ!

I think like any intentional parent, I go between wanting to completely hide him, protect him from the world, and also just love him, toss him into the water, and watch him make his way. I don't feel the need to make any decisions now about high school for him, and I presume that any advice I'll have for him will have a lot to do with the person he shows himself to be and the specific situation before him. Yay me for not being too rigid or prejudiced about that :)

That said, I'm terrified about what kind of social, sexual, and academic idioms he'll be exposed to, and how they'll affect him. Part of me still wants to strike down that heavy axe of Abstinence [chastity and sobriety], and try to keep him from sex, drugs, and rock & roll, I'll confess. I know I'll prolly encourage him to take his time and respect his own true needs and desires above anyone else's. I just hope that by the time we get to those issues, I'll be co-creating a meaningful relationship with him still and will know when to let go and when to intervene.

There's more to say, but this is all for now.