Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Square 17: High school

Square 017

Yesterday a high school friend dropped over while visiting from Provincetown. Scott was part of a small circle I hung out with during grades 12 and 13. The group overlapped with another circle, but with Scott, Sarah, Jennie and Maggie I shared an interest in Classical music. Sarah and I dated for a year. The five of us would go to concerts together. At my house we held Schubertiads where we performed for one another on the piano or other instruments. We worked on the school newspaper together.

I lost contact with most of the group after Maggie's wedding about 23 years ago, but over this past year we got back in touch thanks largely to Sarah. Yesterday was my first reunion with Scott. We both turned out gay, though he accepted it much sooner than I did. Over lunch at Lemon Grass Thai Cuisine we reminisced.

When Scott tells something that amuses him he was a way of lifting one eyebrow and twisting his mouth. The mannerism never struck me before, but when he did yesterday, it brought a flood of fond recollections, times we all laughed together.

One incident we all remember vividly. Sarah and I edited the school newspaper, with Jennie, Scott and several others on staff. The nights when we had to get the paper ready to go to the printer were hard work but fun. Once Sarah and I were scheduled to go on a school trip to see a play at Stratford the same night as newspaper production. We did as much work beforehand as possible. Scott and the others assured us they could put most of the paper together while we were gone.

Arriving back from the play, Sarah and I went to the production room and found most most of the galley pages lying empty. Our friends weren't even working, they were chatting at the end of the room. We were furious, and I threw a temper tantrum. Then Scott and Jennie produced the real galleys from under the table. They had in fact done some work though not as much as we expected. They had hoped the practical joke would put things in a better light, but Sarah and I still were not amused. We all ended up working late into the night.

High school was a miserable, lonely time for me. I was aware of my attraction to other boys, and rejected those feelings as unnatural. Growing up in a farm community I didn't know any better. I also didn't know about practical career paths for writers and artists, but writing and making art were the things I loved to do.

These friends have told me they had no idea, back then, how unhappy I was. To them I seemed to be the one who had it all together. I was a good student, and good at putting up a front, and perhaps still am. Yesterday Scott put it this way: we all had private stories underlying the school lives we shared with our friends. I did not know Scott's family, and back then I gave no thought to it. It did not occur to us as adolescents to tell our friends these struggles.

I knitted this square to illustrate Scott's image. Behind the solid stripes of white and blue, our school colours, lies a subtler pattern in variegated yarn. I picked something with a long colour repeat, Berroco Jasper, because while the pattern of school environment didn't change, we each gradually matured and went into the world as adults.

Even if I kept my friendships superficial, Scott and the others made school more bearable. In grade 12 I went from being a loner to having friends who shared some interests, and who I liked spending time with in and out of school. I was too serious, but they brought humour. Life can be a challenge, but with friends we will survive.

I had a reunion with Sarah and Maggie on Dec. 26. I'm glad these people are back in my life.


  1. *Tears*!

    Vicky and I wandered around the halls during Harrow's Centenary. Hardly anyone from our generation was there. We were too cheap, and perhaps too nervous to go to the dance!

    A great square.

    So glad to have you - the real you - back again.

  2. Maybe one day we will have the courage as a mob to descend on those hallowed halls and turn them on end.