I dreamt I was pulling into the front of my old high-school.
A place I rarely saw while I went there,
as my father would drop me off at the McDonald's next door
hours before school would start.
He had to get to work early.
I would sit there, passing the time by drawing in a booth near the bathroom.
It taught me patience, meditation,
and reinforced just how different I really was
from the other kids.
But here I was in the dream
riding up that entrance circle.
Propelled by an invisible driver who was both there and not there.
But it would seem, that in the context of the dream;
it was somehow also me.
And so I sat, as both
passenger and driver.
And looked through the windshield at the cordon of faculty and prestigious alumni;
waiting to greet the class of 1999.
“Why am I here?”
The first person I see is Notsam Roberts.
Yeah, the guy from the Wrestling Podcasts.
I don't know the man in real life, of course
(though he certainly seems a wonderful soul).
But in the dream, we're old friends
and he's looking to save me from the judging eyes
of all the unhappy folk that seem particularly perturbed of my return.
As driver-me rolls down the window,
there's a rent-a-cop who, right off the bat, is telling me that I can't wear my hat inside.
“What hat?” I say.
And he looks, with ill-tempered, impatient eyes
at some gaudy leather, cowboy hat that rests on the back of the driver's seat.
It has 90's red-tribal stitch-work,
a “fancier” version of the one my buddy Scott used to wear in our early twenties.
“Yeah, that's not mine.”
His eyes don't believe me.
He's been told about this “Zacherl kid” and he's not going to be duped.
I'm almost forty.
But yeah, kid is what I'm feeling like.
I guess it's that kind of dream.
At the same time as all of this,
passenger-me greets Notsam, as he opens the back door
to what's now changed from my current soccer-mom-van
to the Chevvy I used to drive, just after high school…
Complete with WHITE ZOMBIE stickers & ‘MIGET4U’ license plate.
We agree to drive past all these fools, and into the back parking lot.
A space that I'm far more accustomed to, nostalgically speaking.
I feel like a rehabilitated DeLarge ,as driver me hits the gas
and we reach the end of the cordon.
The final figures we pass are that of a Priest, a Bishop, and a Cardinal;
all dressed in full regalia.
Everyone's worried that “Zacherl” will make a scene.
I'm tempted to.
But, quick as Rapid Eye Movement, we're in the back parking lot.
Where I'd mooned the math teacher as he drove by (accidentally, I swear, Mr. Lacowitz).
Where I'd hit third base with my girlfriend, outside the weight-shed.
Where Dan, Mike, Liz, and I used to wrestle, and love, and be brothers.
I realize, somewhere outside the dream, that Notsam is really just a mixture of those friends,
that family, who I haven't spoken to in far too long.
There's a peace in being with that family, even in a dream.
There's nothing that judging eyes can accomplish while we're together;
just like back then.
As we drive through the crowded lot to find a space
we roll past my buddy Joe, a far more popular friend who seemed to always do everything right
and, though he was always excellent to me,
stayed outside of our circles so that he wouldn't get pulled down with our gravity.
In the dream…
he’s walking with an entourage engineered to impress.
I see Christian Slater, and dream-logic says that he’s walking with other celebrities
(I wonder if Wynona’s somewhere behind them with explosives?).
Joe's on the phone, asking some unknown agent why Heath Ledger's running late.
In the dream, it doesn't occur to me that Ledger had passed away years before this,
nor that Joe didn't even go to this school.
I'd known him from a school I'd been expelled from
years before I'd even made it to high-school.
In the value of dream-time, we're no longer in the parking lot.
And I'm no longer with NotSam.
I'm in the school's gymnasium,
it's been decorated into a haunted house, of sorts.
Some sort of fundraiser where, for a meager donation
one could pick up a boffer weapon and go fend off “skeletal warriors”.
It was amateur-hour…
The skeletons wore basketball jerseys & sneakers to compliment torn, latex masks.
But I found a charm in that.
In bringing two things that were linchpins in my being deviant from the “normal world”
and displaying them in the sunlight and banality of a Catholic School gym.
This is amazing to me.
You see, I was raised Catholic.
And endured the whole 80's “Satanic Panic”
that, in all actuality
had stretched well into the nineties (and, in some parts, lingers still).
I was expelled from one school in the fifth grade, and another in the seventh
…mostly because I listened to Metallica & played D&D.
both, clearly, Satan’s will.
My high school wasn't as stringent as the schools I'd attended before it.
For the most part they were sane, encouraging
and did their best to build children instead of razing them.
But even here there were tear-me-downs;
have blue hair.
Don’t have piercings.
Don’t walk through the halls with your shirt off, singing Gary Numan.
So seeing this, these “normals” playing out my childhood interests,
it summoned a cathartic, Cheshire-Charlie smile.
There are two girls at the make-shift counter (i.e. poker table)
taking donations and handing out tickets to the fundraiser.
One is looking my way with a friendly smile.
I didn't recognize her in the dream.
But in the hindsight of waking, I'm thinking she was Chrissie, Mary-Anne, Jen, Emily, Marie...
All the lovely, good-souled girls who were nothing but sweet
back when I was damned undeserving of sweetness.
The other “teller” looks unsure of me, guess she's heard the rumors.
She tells me it'll be $209.
I look at the receipt and the dream, thankfully, corrects itself;
Gotta keep up the suspension of disbelief here, dream-mind.
I pay and turn to play, guess there's something hidden there.
But behind me is another friendly face;
Geoff, his smile as wide as the sun.
Behind him are the people I Larped with.
The souls that carried me through all the years of detentions and suspensions.
Who stood beside me and behind me whether I deserved it or not.
These are my people.
I smile and,