I recently did a search on Facebook to see if I could find out about my old high school in Windhoek, Namibia. I found a group started for all St Pauls College students – old and new and so I decided to join and have found a few old school ‘friends’.
Brought back some school memories – not all of them are good – in fact I didn’t really like school at all. I didn’t make friends well and was pretty much a loner…an awkward soul who was tall thin gangly and very self-conscious. My parents moved around so much, I had difficulty making friends, so I tended to withdraw into my own world.
I remember sitting by myself at lunch breaks wishing they would end quickly. I didn’t have the self-confidence to join any groups of girls – there weren’t many of us as it had been a private boy’s college before they decided to take in girls and I was amongst the first intake of girls. I was asked to join some for lunches but didn’t really partake in conversation. I suppose I was considered boring. In fact I remember at the age of six walking home from school with a small group of girls. I was trying to explain something when one of them turned to me and said that I should shut up as I was boring. That sealed it for me. I very seldom opened my mouth after that. Blah di blah di blah…same story for many, I am sure.
What I do remember is that the brothers at the Christian Brothers College were all very lovely and kind-hearted. I’ve heard much about these kinds of religious schools run by brothers and nuns since then…about how hard the brothers were on schoolboys and nuns on schoolgirls but our lot were very different.
I did wonder if maybe it was just my slightly skewed impression that they were such kind-hearted souls and I was tinting everything with a rose coloured brush. It seems not – most of the old students on Facebook feel this way and remember Slopes, our principal with fondness. His real name is Brother Hermenegildus and all of the brothers were Dutch, hence the influence to learn Dutch at school (amongst other languages).
One person wondered whether he was still alive and someone who still lives in Windhoek confirmed that he does. He lives just down the road from the hostel where all the brothers used to stay on the school grounds. Ahhh…
The brothers taught me that male energy can be gentle and loving and for this I am truly grateful to them.
I was sitting today wondering how I would feel if I walked in a room filled with my old school fellows. I think I might feel like that awkward tongue-tied teenager again. I suddenly felt an aversion to going down that route. There is a call for a reunion at some stage of all classes but I dunno if I would be bothered to fly all that way to be an awkward teenager again. I love the country and the school, but the rest…hmm…not sure.
It’s not that anyone was nasty or made me feel uncomfortable. I did a good job of that myself without anyone’s help. Is this a demon I need to ferret out? Is it worth the bother? Maybe…maybe not. I suppose if it is important enough I will land up somehow through synchronicity having to face this part of my past.
One of the girls I connected with on Facebook said ‘whoosh, memories returning.’ I felt myself cringe when I read it and want to turn away. Gawd, I must have been such a pitiful picture. I remember being so shy, I never said hallo or goodbye. It was simply too much for me to handle.
It is not as though I was an abused child. I wasn’t. I had two wonderful parents who thought the world of us. My father was strict but he never lifted a hand. He just used to look at us and we listened – I am not sure what we thought he would do if we didn’t listen. My mother on the other hand always talked to us, doing creative things with us and so on.
The day I fell pregnant at 16 my mother was so supportive…devastated but supportive. My father blamed my mother and never once shouted at me. He took his anger out on my mother – they didn’t like each other much, but stayed together because of us kids. They discussed it between them and then gave me three alternatives and said they would support me whatever I decided. Have an abortion, keep the baby or get married.
My parents still have this absolute faith in me – they don’t understand much that I talk about but are happy to support me in whatever I do.
So why I was so incredibly shy, I have no idea. I also remember suddenly becoming conscious that I was so skinny and bony and wearing layers of clothing to cover it up, despite the 40 degree heat – I always wore a jersey or cardigan to cover my arms all year. Everyone constantly asked me if I wasn’t hot. I shook my head and continued to sweat in my self imposed ‘sauna’.
Believe it or not, losing my virginity suddenly gave me the self-confidence I needed. Again, I have no idea why. Power I suppose, something I had control over because I could pick and choose my partners. Now I am not sure why I had this choice. I wasn’t anything to look at or for guys to gaga over. Weird. I have to give my thanks to the local gigolo for this awakening of me, albeit a strange way for it to happen. I remember lying on my bed on my 16th birthday knowing that if I went out on a ‘date’ with him, I would no longer be a virgin. It was quite a clinical analysis and I decided that it was time for me to wake up. Wake up from what I don’t know but I distinctly remember this thought.
I also remember at 8 months old or so deciding that this world was very harsh and packing away my authentic self very deep within myself to protect it while I negotiated this world.
I have many portions in my life that I remember were milestones or nudgings to wake up. These were the waking of different portions of myself on different levels.
The dance of life, eh?
Fond and not so fond memories - to read comments on LW