Friday, August 29, 2008

Diary: August 1996.

This month struck me as I climbed out of a dizzy and wonderful summer. This summer I had participated in the restaging of The Seventh Dream at Flint Youth Theatre, attended the Reynold's Young Writers Workshop in Granville, Ohio, came back just in time to see the Smashing Pumpkins in concert with my best friend, got a crush on a girl, took a trig class at Mott college, played Friend Hare in FYT's version of Bambi, and started dating a 16-year old named Lori. And all this was before August.

August got off to a rocky start.

First, I broke up with Lori on my birthday. She attributed this to very selfish and sitcommy motives which I will not connect to a full explication, except to say that while my motives were pure (we had nothing in common), I could not have had worse timing. But what was I supposed to do; we'd only been dating for about two weeks. This led to only the second major argument I'd ever had with Paul since we'd become friends six years before, but we patched things up pretty quickly. Lori seemingly forgave me too, though there was an Act II to follow later that winter.

Second, one day early on in the month, my mom decided to drive out to Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp to pick up my brother and sister and to hear them in concert. On the way I was reading the Hopes and Dreams guide to the University of Chicago. Now I knew that I wanted to go to college in Chicago, but I'd always had a strong pro-Northwestern bias because I'd heard such rave reviews of its theater department. I almost wrote off the U of C at once, because I heard that there were stringent core math requires there, and ever since I'd flunked math twice (for marking periods) in eighth grade, math left kind of an icky taste in my mouth. All this changed when I picked up Hopes and Dreams. The rhetoric was entirely different from anything I'd ever encountered before, and the stress was on the enterprise of learning and critical austerity. It conveyed a hunger that encompassed and went beyond the more straightforward practicalities of almost every other school I considered, and yet it still seemed more grounded in the realities of the world than some of my other choices: Sarah Lawrence and Kalamazoo. I had a nice conversation with my mom about all this, and by the time we got home, late that night, I felt as if I'd made up my mind already.

Third, some of the kids from that play and I spent the end of the summer driving around, playing Capture-the-Flag and drinking slurpees all over the Carmen-Ainsworth school district. It was an odd combination of people, myself, Bree, who had also been home-schooled, Josh the homophobe, another Josh the Überqueer, Demetrius who loved Madonna, Jessica the Republican, Perrico of the baseball bats, and at least a couple other strange and odd characters.

Summer felt more and more perfect the further it progressed.

Where were you in August 1996?

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