To say my high school experience radically changed my attitude about lots of things would be an understatement. Probably the most significant and early changes involved pain and music. Pain you might ask? Yes, because school for me actually began two weeks before classes started on the football practice field.
I have always loved American football and all its forms which would include rugby and Australian rules football which became part of my life when my parents got cable. The little know channel ESPN at the time had all of this on television. The one thing I wanted to do was play football . Now mind you it was purely for the love of the game not that I had any talent at it. I was 5 feet, ten inches tall as I entered football. I weighed 145 lbs. I was tall and thin – a skinny guy. However, one thing the coaches would remark on very early was the size of my heart.
The first two weeks are called two-a-days. Two practices back to back and they literally try to get you to quit. You run a lot – sprint and long distance. They put you through drills that have one purpose – to break you down so you can be rebuilt. The drill you so you step over things on the ground using just your peripheral vision. They get you used to the idea of being knocked down and having the desire to get right back up or not fall down in the first place. Everything you need to play they put into you instinctively. It has to be automatic. That said, it was hot and hell on earth for two weeks, but I didn’t quit.
I went home the first day, sore and I could hardly walk. The pain was intense and I slept pretty much all the rest of the day and the night as well. I was so tired and in so much pain I seriously thought of using my healing magic but then I made a decision about pain. It was necessary to build me and so I didn’t cast a single spell. I got up the next morning and my parents dropped me off for day two. After the first of the two practices, the head coach of the varsity came up to me and said something I will never forget.
“I thought you were going to quit after yesterday, the fact you are still here is a testimony to your character. You don’t quit despite the pain. That’s impressive.”
Since that day I have never quit simply because of pain. There may be other factors where I have to acknowledge a battle cannot be won, but I will never quit because of pain. Physical, emotional or otherwise. It also meant I used less healing spells unless I was damaged by a magical cause.
School did eventually start and the two-a-days shifted to once a day after school. By that time my body had adjusted to the punishment somewhat. That’s when music changed for me. The first day of class, I walked into the halls of the high school as a student for the first time. There were Def Leppard ‘Pyromania’ t-shirts everywhere. I had never at that time heard of them, so I asked about them and for the first time got my real taste of the hard rock /metal genre. My musical tastes up to that time had been pretty much church music, classical, country and a little rock and roll of the 50s – 70s when I could get it. Metal changed everything because it gave my frustrations, passions and rage expression. I would fill my lack of words about how I was feeling with music and it worked. Def Leppard, AC/DC, Quit Riot, Motley Crew, etc. all entered my life.
True, back then you had to buy vinyl or cassette tapes. So it was much harder to do. I added a healthy dose of Christian rock at the time also. My new pastor didn’t like it, calling rock the devil’s music. I asked him to give Biblical proof of that and he failed. But it became an issue because like it or not for them , I was becoming the leader of the pack at church. Not something chosen but I was being looked at as the leader. The magical world and its confidence were rubbing off and there was nothing they could do about it.
Of course, Lunette and I ran into each other the first day. She looked at me and because she was now hanging with the preps, she gave me a disdainful look. She had changed her look, punk rock outcast was gone and she was definitely going for the prom queen look. Her hair had been turning pink since the wings had changed but she was now dying it blonde to have a natural human look. Guys surrounded her like flies and I knew probably all of them were banging her. She tried to make a snide comment about me when I was close to her and no one was around. I touched her and it was like lightning to her.
“Listen, my former flame. The fact is I am still your cocaine. The best thing you should do is keep your distance and keep your mouth shut and polite. I am not the high up in social society around here. It wouldn’t do for the prom queen if everyone suddenly knew who you have been f—ing all summer.”
Harsh probably, but it appealed to her pride now. She wanted people to adore her and social standing in high school was important. Your clique and you standing in that clique were all that mattered. If word got out she had spent the summer with me between her legs, it would not go well for her in this regard. She backed off and I started to hate her for it.
My only rock was Elpis now. To all outside appearances, I was a loner in high school but I was definitely in a relationship with Elpis. She took football in stride. She wanted to heal me when I finally crawled to the grove after the second day of practice to tell her what was going on. I told her no and told her why. She understood my reasons. So she did the next best thing. She waved her hand and made a large bed of leaves under the shade of the Tree. We laid down there and she gently and tenderly cuddled with me while I slept.
My whole body was sore, but her presence simply seemed to wash it away. The weariness, the sadness and anger about Lunette. They all melted I her arms. My arm that was around her gently moved up and down her back. She kissed me. My strength returned. Did she use magic? I would have known. No, it was simply the magic of love. I would do a lot of things, walk into hell for her if necessary, to hold her. Elpis gave me hope that happiness could be found. I kept going for her because it became very clear high school was not going to be a completely pleasant experience for me.
I think what I found that Fall was mutual love. Real love given and received. Lunette always took from me and gave little back. Elpis was both a good giver and a good receiver when it came to love. The irony was we hadn’t had sex yet and I felt more deeply about her than I ever felt about Lunette. Sex isn’t the only intimacy that matters and I was learning that more and more with Elpis every day. Don’t get me wrong, sexual desire was there, but I would be patient. I would wait for the time to be right. I wanted sexual things to flow out of love this time. Besides it was still fun when my hands would stray a little and she would call me ‘pervert’.