Kapiti College. Years of mum buying me maroon jerseys I’d never wear. Stuffed like old socks in the back of the hot water cupboard. Missed class photos, quite by accident (you’d think there was a sense of purpose in that). Early years spent shaking the dead skin of the past moved into collecting the tabs off of coke cans (in a flat search for a world trip), Bic biros, and the downy upper-lip hair of puberty. To start with grades were paramount, excelling where I could and existing where couldn’t. History’s pages must have proved inspirational because top marks came easy, much like a back of the bus confession of love that spread like the fire of London (1666 for the record). A crush on Ben’s friend, blonde and sweet, and a note left in my diary that was probably the thing that cursed me to fatalistic romance ever after. Hopeless too.
Another blond, this time more disingenuous. Not smart enough to succeed on her own, yet smart enough to know the power of her touch. Last I heard, hairdressing was her game. Then there was Ms Jonas, all evocative pants and primal armpits. Wild as a banshee but as wonderful as a waterfall; spilling music and madness in one go. And Caleb, the Skywalker look-alike with the force in his red Stratocaster; teaching me what I wanted to know, not what I should. C block reared its head, and funnily, so did C grades as priorities shifted to a life outside school books. Bouts of surfing and Bad Religion thrumming down the fret board to drop D and heavy metal, pool on Ali’s wonky, toy table, and getting drunk at friends’ homes to keep the parents in the dark on my dark hours. But never dim.
All the while, watching Mazda RX-7s get built on State Highway One and cheese rolls being pulled apart for five years straight. Earning the number seven, and forever trying to better describe the sound the guitars made on Siamese Dream (Big Muff). One dollar cheese burgers and a trip to the sunshine coast for theme-park adventure, awkward billeting, and beating the Aussies silly. Kayaking trips to the sounds and Trewern, the affable chemistry teacher who may or may not have shared a pipe with us out back of the Palmer’s, and maybe the lips of a school mate.
Good years those all, mostly. The latter ones full of dreams of Dunedin and sports medicine, though in the end, apathy or laziness put that to bed. With a latent interest in Indiana Jones and the humanities about to evolve into a fully fledged ethnography of self, religion, the opposite sex – and a group of hooky playing friends sticking together though spinning apart. Anthropology a fluke, and an early entry in a bereft prospectus proving a worthy adversary for a new epoch of adulthood. Blue hair and all.