September 26, 2017

     

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No teen aged life is simple. Each of us struggles with discovery of some balance between life at home and life in the neighbourhood. Mother and father warn me against smoking. A friend tempts me on the way home from school. I tell him my parents do not allow smoking. He taunts me. Am I some kind of momma's boy? So I take the smoke. God awful experience.

Hockey was a delight. It seemed I was something of a natural. A good strong skater with an eye for how play was unfolding. I was consistently near the top of the points list. Mostly for assists, passing the puck to set up the scoring of a goal. This is what I loved about the game. The poetry in motion. Intuiting the patterns at work and putting the puck just where it should be. A fine sense of achievement. The bloom came off as I aged. Something in me was averse to the stress on aggressive competition as key to success in the game. Seems I preferred the pleasure of playing over the pleasure of winning. I still resist a world of winners and losers.

Growing up a boy meant longing for a car. I purchased my first at the age of fifteen. A '58 Ford, four door sedan. It had a 352 cubic inch V-8 engine, fuelled by a Holly four barrel carburetor. First thing I did was cut the exhaust system off at the headers. I extended each header by adding a steel pipe, drive shafts found at the town dump. It was ready for the road by the time I turned sixteen. On my very first ride around the block I was stopped by the police. They had a problem with the exhaust system. Too loud. A costly lesson about following the rules even when you do not agree with them.

There was another element connected with both hockey and cars. Alcohol. By fifteen it was a regular part of my social life. Friday and Saturday were party nights. Hormone charged youth gathering to get drunk. Boys and girls exploring mating rituals. Dancing. Necking. Finding a quiet space for intimate relations. Me generally in observer mode. Watching and wondering about the behaviour of my peers. Conflicted by recollection of lessons learned at home and in church. Wanting to fit in. Deeply uncomfortable doing so.

I did not complete high school. I failed grade ten. My second try ended after only a month. The vice principal told me I had a choice. I could quit or be expelled. So I left school. Carrying with me a strong sense of failure. I was a disappointment to nearly all the adults in my world. Not a matter of being unable. A matter of being unwilling. Few realized that I was lost in the world as it is. That I saw through the layers of pretence hiding the evidence of power misused and abused. Things I could not have said then. Things I hope to say as I go forward along this way.