So, my sister went home, the other guests all left, and on Monday we all went back to class. Litha doesn't start a new semester, so in some ways everything is back to normal.
In other ways--well, of course the summer campers arrived on Saturday, so campus is now full of shrieking children again and we're back to wearing ordinary clothes outdoors so the campers don't see us looking like wizards in our uniforms. Kit says summer begins at Beltane, but I still maintain it has just begun now.
The weather's been pretty hot of late, mostly over 90 degrees, so I'm glad not to have to wear my uniform all the time. Everyone looks more comfortable, except Allen, who still wears a suit, or at least a collared shirt, whenever he isn't in uniform. Lately he's looked damp with sweat. I used to think he was just a really formal person, but he's totally not. So, why does he dress like that?
"I like suits," he told me, when I asked. "And when in doubt, I dress up rather than down."
When in doubt? Is he always in doubt then? If so, of what?
A few weeks ago I attended Calalloo, Kit's open-mike without a mike, and saw a woman named Carrie sing. This is her third year here, but she's a mastery candidate in Snake Dorm, so I hadn't really spent any time with her before. That she's a motorcycle mechanic, that she expects to win her ring this year, and that she's gay were pretty much all I knew about her (she's very pretty, so I was asking around about her a little last year, before someone explained I had no chance). But then she sang at Calalloo and I was really impressed. I said so, and we started talking.
She sang "Unknown Legend," that Neil Yong song about the woman riding a Harley Davidson. She sang it beautifully, with this rich, wonderful voice, rather like Kit's, except that Carrie isn't self-consciously flirtatious on stage, the way Kit is. I couldn't tell whether, as she sang the song, she was imagining herself on that Harley (her hair is blonde, like the woman in the song), imagining some other woman she knows, or both, or neither. Either way, it was beautiful.
The thing is that in talking with her I've learned that she's only twenty-three--and this is her third year as a candidate. Being a candidate, she must once have been a novice, and she must have had a period of Absence between getting her degree and coming back. That means...she got he bachelor's degree when she was seventeen?
"What, did you start college when you were fourteen?" I asked her the other day. She laughed.
"No, when I was sixteen. I tested out of a lot."
"How did you do that?" I was incredulous. She shrugged.
"I'm really smart," she explained nonchalantly. Then she colored and looked away.
"Really smart?" I got curious. "How?"
"How did I get really smart? I suppose I was born like this. It isn't something I make a big deal about."
"No, I mean, what kind of smart? What's it like?"
She shrugged again.
"I don't know, I just get bored easily. I learn fast."
"Is that why you left high school? Because you got bored?" I'd heard of such things. But her face changed and I wondered if I shouldn't have asked.
"I left school because I left home." I waited to see if she wanted to tell me more. Sometimes people want and need to answer difficult questions. Sometimes they don't. I wish I could tell the difference. "I left home because I overheard my Dad telling a friend of his that I needed some man to 'cure' me." She looked at me hard for a moment, to make sure I knew what she meant. "I left that night. When he woke up the next morning, I was already gone."
"He knew you were gay?" I clarified. She nodded.
"I'd told him."
"Wow," I said. I had a hard time figuring out what to say. "The more women I make friends with, the more men I want to kill." She laughed and took my hand for a moment.
"You're sweet, Daniel," she said, "and potentially useful, but you don't have to commit murder for me."
Actually, there are only two guys I feel really murderous about, Aidan's dad and now Carrie's, though there are a lot of other guys I'm not exactly pleased with because of things they've done to various friends of mine. But I haven't met any of these people. What would I do if I did?
I mean, I don't actually think I should commit murder. I'm no vigilante. But would I really be tempted? It's easy to think all kinds of things about people I've never met and never will.
I'm thinking again of how Karen carries a knife with her everywhere she goes. I mean, it's a serious knife, made for hurting people. She does it so that she can't fantasize about violence she doesn't intend to commit. She has to confront whatever violent tendencies she has honestly.
It does sound,though, that people like Nora, and maybe even Kayla, are not that unheard of here. I mean, that they aren't the first high school-age kids to come here. There haven't been many, I don't think, but there was Carrie, and I've heard that before Karen the athletics master used to be a rock climber named Jane Spider, and she originally came here as a teenage runaway. Some of the windows in the Mansion can open from the outside, and I've heard that's because Spider Jane used to literally teach people to climb up the walls.
That must have been something to see.
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