I was thinking the other day about what I was doing last year at this time--and what I'll be doing next year. And the thing is, I don't know. Rick and I tossed around the idea of doing the Appalachian Trail next year, or at least part of it, and I also think I want to go to grad school, but I really don't know how it's going to play out.
Actually, I'm pretty sure I do want to go to grad school. I want to do something science-related. But I'm not sure how to go about choosing a school. Eventually, I'll ask my parents and Charlie about it, but I'm not quite there yet. I think they'll tell me what to do, or try to, and I want to have some thoughts of my own before that happens.
So, I asked Allen what school I should go to.
"That depends on what you want to learn," he said.
"But I don't know yet. How do I figure this out?"
"How did you decide to come here?"
"I just showed up," I told him, shrugging. "I liked what I saw. But I don't think that will work for choosing a grad school."
"You'd be surprised."
"But this school is weird. By design. I don't think the same thing will work in a normal school."
"Do you want to go to a normal grad school? You don't have to, you know."
"Probably not," I acknowledged. "What about you? How did you choose your various schools?"
"Including this one?"
"Sure," though I'd heard part of that story before.
"I chose my undergrad program because out of the several schools close enough to please my parents and far enough away to please me, it was the one that gave me a scholarship. Once I was there, I took a psychology course, liked it, and ended up being a psych major. I did well, then I chose a grad school because it had a good psych program and offered me a scholarship. I did well. Which is what everybody expected. And I could see myself doing what everybody expected, one step after another, for the rest of my life. And I got really confused and depressed."
"I can relate." The same thing had happened to me, in a way.
"Yeah, I know. We have some things in common. Anyway, so I talked to my friend, Jim, about it, and he asked me what I wanted to do. That's when I went to Key West and learned to be a magician. When I asked Jim how he knew how to give such good advice, it turned out he had this school...so I enrolled. When I graduated, I went back to my grad school, finished my degree, then came here, got my ring and a job."
Allen is the only person in the history of the school so far to earn his ring and be hired to the Six at the same time.
"How did you know Jim?" I asked.
"I used to date his ex."
I thought about this. I've never met Jim, but I have heard of him. He must have been a lot older than Allen, and Jim had been with his boyfriend, Shrimp, since years before the school even started, so this ex must have been both younger than Jim and older than Allen for the whole thing to work out. Except--
Allen saw me realize and laughed.
"Yes," he acknowledged, "that I dated Jim's ex means that either Jim or I must be bisexual. How does it feel not knowing which of us it is?"
"Your not knowing my orientation disorients you?" He was still grinning.
"Yeah. I can't think why. It's not like it makes any real difference to me."
"It's called triadic awareness," Allen explained. "It's an instinct to keep track of relationships we're not part of. It's part of how humans can have such complex societies. You know where I stand, that helps tell you where you stand."
"Except you're not going to help tell me where I stand."
"Of course not. I'm a magician. Not knowing things is good for you."