A Tussle with a Tassel
I just kneeled before that hearth of red brick like a monk and watched it flame up, curl, and finally turn black and tumble to ash.
I had a dream in the opening creaks of dawn today that I was getting ready to graduate from high school again. In my dream, the colors of my cap and gown were white trimmed in gold. In my real-life graduation, the colors were green and gold… I think. I don’t really remember because it was eons ago. I had attended a Catholic high school my last three years because I had been a bad kid in regular school and kind of got kicked out. I guess it wasn’t because I was bad really, I was just maladjusted. I didn’t fit in. But truth be told, Catholic high school was rougher than regular high school. That’s just what I needed.
The point is, because it was a Catholic high school and a relatively small class of less than 100 people, we had our graduation ceremony at a godly chapel on the campus of one of the local colleges. It was some sort of long-standing tradition. I suppose I didn’t really care about that. I hated high school and was just so ready to get it over and done with.
Moving on, I guess it was only fitting that my final act as a high school student turned out to be an exercise in my own misplacement in the world. After I accepted my diploma and began to stroll across the chancel, I reached up and struggled to find the tassel that I was supposed to move from right to left. It never occurred to me that performing such a seemingly simple act would have turned out to be my penultimate high school kick in the crotch. I was mostly concerned with the damn cap completely falling off my head and then everyone would see my messed-up hair.
Like I said, I had reached up and I was feeling for it, but I just couldn’t find the damn thing. I could sense the breathlessness in the gathered crowd. I was immediately struck with panic and what I really wanted to do was just run, run, run and never return to society ever again. But that would have been impossible. Everyone was watching, everyone was waiting. And then, as I took nearly my last step at the come down point off of the chancel, I found that damn tassel and flipped it to the left. It had slipped to the very back of the cap somehow. I was relieved. The crowd was relieved. The saints and demons etched into the colorful stained glass of the chapel were relieved. The whole damn universe was relieved.
That was my graduation. While everyone else was happy, excited, and celebrating the coming joys of their surely bright futures as they gathered on the perfectly manicured lawn outside after it was all done, I had had a tussle with a tassel. That is my memory. That is the little burn scar from my 18th year of life that for some reason really sticks out to me. It shouldn’t though, because over the years I have collected many more missteps and scars – much thicker and deeper ones. Such is life, I suppose.
I would think that for many people, high school was the highlight of their lives. For many people, I believe, high school memories are pleasant ones filled with friends, good times, laughter, dances, football games, parties, trips, dating, etc… Not for me. I was never involved in anything because I just knew I would have made a fool of myself, and those bastards would have jumped on that opportunity and torn me to shreds. And you may think I’m a psycho, but I actually burned my high school yearbook in our downstairs fireplace at the brutal Colorado house in the foothills where I lived. I just kneeled before that hearth of red brick like a monk and watched it flame up, curl, and finally turn black and tumble to ash. I don’t know why I even had a yearbook. My parents must have gotten it for me because it surely wasn’t something I would have chosen to have on my own.
Anyways, enough of that. I think this post was supposed to be about a dream… Yes. The dream.
In the dream this morning, I was getting ready for my graduation, and I was terribly anxious because I just knew, knew, my cap was going to fall off and I’d be made fun of… Again. So, in this dream, I was madly scurrying about in some cabinets searching for hairpins. I needed hairpins because I wanted to have them with me in case I needed to pin my cap to my head to keep it from falling off – which is really stupid because I never had hair thick enough to pull something like that off.
I was searching and scrounging and scavenging for hairpins, and in the process, I was making a huge mess of everything because I was just tossing stuff everywhere, like in a cartoon. My mother was in the dream, and I recall she looked really worried about me as I was just flipping things about in search of hairpins. It was as if she already knew I was going to have a very rough life and there was nothing she could do about it. She knew she had bred a cuckoo. That’s the look she had. The dream ended when I finished shoving everything else back into the cabinet and it was such a disheveled mess in there and that bothered me and I hated leaving it like that, but I did. I just closed the cabinet and then I woke up.
Fast forward umpteen years and at this moment my beautiful wife is gathering the laundry and clanking dishes. I’m madly typing away at my desk. I just finished my coffee and Greek yogurt sprinkled with granola and soon I will down my daily dose of prescription medication and head off to the gym. I didn’t need high school for this. What a painful waste. I just needed a chance to be what I wanted to be. I never fit into that small rectangular box that I sternly looked out from in that burning yearbook. I never will properly fit – not like they want me to.