To begin the story at the beginning, read "Part 1: Post 1: Beginning Again," published in January, 2013. To consult a description of the campus, read "Part 1: Post 14: The Greening of Campus," published in March, 2013.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Year 2: Part 8: Post 5: Fellow Students

Here I'm doing a list of students whom I mention frequently in the blog--there were actually about a hundred students on campus at any given time. I knew most of them, at least to say hi to, and while I wasn't friends with all of them, I was (and am) friends with more of them than appear as recurring "characters" in the blog.

In any case, here is a brief blurb on each of the students whom I have mentioned at least twice in the blog so far. I figure this way readers who have just joined the story can look up descriptions that I originally scattered across many posts. I've added some information I couldn't fit into the narrative, plus physical descriptions--so I don't have to repeat myself when I describe people, everyone on the list identified as white. Almost all students on campus were--that's who walked in our door. Maybe we should have tried to change that, I don't know.

(I have edited this piece to add "characters" who have joined the story since I first wrote it)


Andy started the same year I did. He was in his mid-thirties at the time. He came to campus originally as a bicycle thief--he was a homeless drug addict who hoped that a bicycle might help him get back on his feet somehow. When he was "saved" as a Christian and got clean, he repented and returned the bike and at that time asked to join the school. We put him through a detox program and got him treated for chronic hypothermia and more or less helped him put his life back together. He ended up learning bicycle maintenance as a craft and now owns a bicycle repair shop.

He was unusual on campus in being Christian. He was outspoken and passionate about it, but he never seemed uncomfortable with the pagan school culture--on the contrary, he's always said that we embody Christ better than most Christian churches do. I don't know if that's true or not. There was always a childlike eagerness to Andy. There is still. He says it's because he spent so much of his early life high that he never grew up. I think it's because  he had a very difficult, painful life and he just got tired of pain and fear and doesn't want to have any more of it. He has no family left, except us. He's sort of average-looking, in terms of height and so forth, with dark hair, pale eyes, and bad skin. He looks older than he is.


Arther also started my year, but graduated at the end of that year. He was in his late sixties at the time and had been a Wiccan High Priest for decades. He joined the school shortly after his High Priestess, his wife, died, because he didn't want to be alone. He already knew most of what the school had to teach and already had a college degree--more than one, I think. As a student he was white-haired and wrinkled but still physically robust. He is now in his eighties and his health is beginning to fail but he can still hold his own in an argument.


Aidan was not a student thirteen years ago--he was a toddler. His mother is Kayla, who was only twelve when he was born. The circumstances of his conception are not my story to tell, but the man was an adult and is still in prison. He was adopted by his grandmother, Sadie, who was on staff, but Kayla has helped raise him. He's a teenager now and knows she is his real mother. He's a sweet kid, still pretty little, with thin features and dark hair.


Me, of course. There was another student in my year named Dan who was, like me, 19 when we started. Like me, he was a young 19. He and I never really got to be friends and I spent a lot of time worrying that people might confuse the two of us, since he was very good at putting his foot in his mouth, but he's basically a good guy. I haven't heard from him in a while.

As for me, I'm tall, skinny, kind of awkward-looking, honestly, with brown hair and eyes. I usually have a Van Dyke beard--that's a goatee plus mustache.  You can't tell, since I'm the narrator, but really I hardly ever talk. I like listening better. And people like to talk to me. I don't know why.                               


Ebony started the year after I did and she is something like fifteen years older than I am. She is also--and some readers have guessed this--one of the women I dated on campus. I have decided not to talk about my romances in the blog posts because all of them were marred by my self-consciousness over still being a virgin. There is no way I could write about that in character as my 20-year-old self, so I haven't. Ebony was my second girlfriend on campus and we were together for a couple of months. We ended badly, but recovered our friendship. She is still closely involved in the community.

She is on the short side of average, pretty (of course), with thick, long, brown hair. Her eyes are brown but look black because the pupils dilate a lot. Physically speaking, she is almost totally blind and has been so since birth. Spiritually, she is not blind at all. She doesn't think of herself as blind and she identifies more strongly with sighted people than with blind people. She calls it "transability."


Eddie started the year after I did, but we only became friends in my third year. The other reason I did not mention him at first is that it is difficult to tell his story with any degree of depth without mentioning that he is transgendered, something that he is not always open about (he can pass a cisgendered and usually prefers to). I do disguise identities for this blog, but I write as if I we simply my younger self telling you things, and my younger self would not have told you about Eddie's status. Finally, I spoke to Eddie himself about it and he gave me permission to write about him freely.

He is on the short side, for a guy, wiry and muscular, with short, light brown-brown hair, blue eyes, and a movie star-handsome, oval face. He is a complete flirt and very much a ladies man--I don't mean he's a player. He doesn't use people. Instead, he celebrates and glories in them. He also sings, dances, and raises and trains therapy and service dogs.


Joanna was another student in my year, and 11 years my senior. I would not have said we got along--she made fun of me a lot--but we kept finding ourselves spending time together. Eventually we became friends when I learned to ignore her teasing. I always thought she was gorgeous, which might be why I put up with her, but she honestly didn't mean anything bad by it. I think she expected me to tease her back, but I've never been able to. I get kind of tongue-tied around her. Still.

She's on the tall side of medium, with thick blonde hair and hazel-blue eyes. Her features are strong, straight, and covered with pale freckles.


Kayla was, as I said, only twelve when she gave birth to Aidan. She hadn't even realized she was pregnant. The masters decided that enrolling her as a student would give her an opportunity to connect with supportive adult women who could identify with some of her experiences better than kids her own age could. But academically she remained a home-schooled kid for many years. She was a bit pudgy before Aidan was born (that, plus his being premature helped hide the pregnancy) but thinned out afterwards. She's of average height but thinly built, with a narrow face and long, blonde hair.


Nora was another early-starter--she was sixteen when she joined the school as a student, and the masters gave her a six-year plan and required that she get her GED before she could finish. She fought with her mother a lot, and for the first year or two was deliberately rebellious--her hair is black, but she kept bleaching and dying it various colors, like purple, pink, and green. She ended up getting into Kit's version of Goddess-based feminism and also bee-keeping. From bee-keeping she expanded herself into making scented candles and massage oil. She has a strong, almost chiseled-looking face, with high cheekbones and a pointed chin.


Ollie was my "buddy," the older student assigned to help me out when I first arrived. We ended up as good friends, although our courses of study were very different. He studied reason and philosophy as a spiritual path, with Allen. Ollie has always been gentlemanly to the point of delicacy; I never heard him use coarse language or make sexual jokes, even in all-male company. He's a Baptist preacher and, like Andy, found something in the pagan community of campus that augmented his Christianity. Unlike Andy, he has always been painfully self-conscious of his status as a member of a minority at the school. To his own surprise as much as anyone's, he fell in love with (and has since married) a woman who glories in her paganism. He is tall and slim and brown-haired, like me, but his face is oval and clean-shaven.

The Ravens 

By a weird coincidence, seven of the women who started with me all called themselves "Raven." Their interests were different enough that they were rarely all together, so it was less confusing than you'd think it is, but I made the mistake of not giving them nicknames for the blog so it's been difficult to really present them as separate people with distinct characters. Three studied magic with Allen, but one became Zen Buddhist, another became a totemic animist, and the third never talked with me about her religion. Three more studied Wicca or magic with Kit, and the seventh was, like me, mostly Charlie's student--though she focused her studies with him on horticulture.


Rick was, in a way, my closest friend on campus and he is the one of my fellow students with whom I have kept most consistently in touch. I qualify that with "in a way" because Rick himself does not really like human beings and does not quite feel like one of us. He likes some individuals and I do think he likes me, but he usually prefers to be alone. There were basic things about him that I didn't learn until years later because he simply didn't think to mention it. For example, he's gay. He wasn't closeted, he just didn't want to date within the fishbowl of the campus community where everyone soon knows everything. But I've never been one to talk much about my thoughts and feelings, either.

Rick and I get along because we give each other space and because our studies were always so closely intertwined. Like me, he studied with Charlie, and while he studied outdoor survival skills and I focused on spirituality, on a deeper level our studies were much the same. He is tall, slim, with short, black hair, and black, bushy eyebrows and a round face with high, taught cheekbones. He does not look quite human.

Steve Bees

Steve Bees arrived in my third year. There was already a man named Steve on campus (I have mentioned him, but we never got to know each other well), so after the new Steve stepped on a yellow-jacket nest his first spring, people started referring to him as "Steve--you know, the one with the bees?" and eventually it stuck.

He is medium-tall, with pale eyes and curly, black hair--or, rather, it was black when he arrived, in his mid-twenties. Much of it's grey now, as is the beard he grows occasionally, and it makes him look older than he really is. He is another of the school's Christians, a Quaker, though it was Greg's Buddhism that led Steve to embody his faith's commitment to social justice and Charlie's animism that made him a true contemplative. He is unusually able to learn from (even contribute to) other traditions while remaining rooted in his own. He is also a truly gifted singer. I have seen him dressed in novice-white, in the brown of a candidate and then a master, and in a series of mundane but expensive-looking suits (he is a lawyer, now). But when I think of him, in my mind's eye he is always wearing jeans and a t-shirt and he is always smiling.

Veery started my second year and graduated in my third year. She could sing beautifully, loved watching and learning about birds ("veery" is a kind of bird) and studied psychology with Allen. She was short and stocky, with a cute plump face and beautiful auburn hair. She was the first person I dated on campus--we were together for a few weeks early in the summer of 2001. We didn't have a whole lot in common besides mutual physical attraction, and in the end we broke up because I wanted to have sex with her so badly that I had no idea how to ask her. And she got tired of my awkwardness on the subject. Our breakup wasn't acrimonious but we didn't become friends and I haven't heard from her in years.


Willa was Ollie's girlfriend. She is now his wife. She's a self-described tantrika, meaning that sex is a big part of her spiritual practice. She was unapologetically promiscuous before getting together with Ollie--that their relationship worked out surprised everybody, but they seem very happy together. She's medium-tall, with long, light brown hair and large, expressive features.  

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