Of course, the school had a name, but none of us ever used it.
We didn't talk about the school much to outsiders, and among ourselves we could always just call it "the school," and we'd know what was meant. My degree does say something at the top, where names usually go, but to be honest that was the first
place I ever saw that name. How did I not ever ask for a name of my
school? You have to understand that there was always something mysterious about the place, and that was by design. There was a lot we never knew, strange secrets and useful secrets as well as a genuine respect for privacy. Direct questions always received honest answers, and we got good at asking the important questions, but we also learned to let the rest be.
school is gone now, but we keep the secrets still, keep them for practical reasons and also we keep the secrets the way you might bank a fire against the winter chill. I have been asked to share certain things with you, to make public certain aspects of our way. I will keep silent on anything that would allow you to track down the exact location of our campus or the true identity of any of our staff and students. I will not tell you the name, though as I said, we never used it, anyway, and I will change certain identifying details. But all the important things I am about to tell you are true.
I attempted this blog last year, but it never came out quite the way I wanted. I am trying again. This time, with the exception of this first post and certain notes I will set off in brackets, I will write as though I am blogging about my current life. I will try to recapture the viewpoint I had thirteen years ago, when all this was new to me. I'll let you find out about the school and its people as I did, a little at a time. I hope that you will come to feel it is your school as well, at least in some small way.
My name is Daniel.
joined the school in February of 2000, the New Year and the shame of
having flunked out of my freshman year of college both still fresh in
my mind. I was nineteen years old, and I was a young nineteen in some ways. I never thought I would fail college; I'd always been bright,
gotten good grades, but somehow when I got to college I couldn't apply
myself. It didn't feel like what I was supposed to be doing. In
retrospect, my refusal to participate sounds bravely intuitive, but at the time it felt like my
life was being hijacked by...something I couldn't understand.
I had not quite been expelled, but I knew I would be if things continued, and I knew of no way to keep things from continuing. Looking back on it, I was profoundly, existentially bored. I'd lived my whole life just going through the motions. Most things came easily to me, but I felt like I was waiting for my life to start. My life still had not started, not even at college, and I think I knew that if I kept living as I had been, getting good grades and doing what I was supposed to do, I would die like that. But I didn't know what else to do. I'd made the decision to quit school, though I hadn't yet finalized my withdrawal and I had not told my parents.
And so the end of January found me driving around in the
mountains pretending to get ready for the
next semester. Classes were supposed to have started already, but I had not registered for any. I had no idea whatever of what I was going to do. The bare trees looked quiet and restful out my car windows and the trees and hills and little clumps of houses soothed me somehow. The slight effort of paying attention to the road and the beautiful countryside kept me from having to think. The snow looked like lemon sugar in the bright sunshine.
And beneath a clump of tall trees I saw a sign and a driveway that piqued my curiosity and changed my life.