Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Kindred Spirits

At high school, I’d always felt like a lonely round peg in a provincial square hole. Most of us came to Rhodes to be somewhere we hadn’t. Far away from the apron strings, curfews and embarrassingly square home towns. In the first weeks of Rhodes, I discovered a gratifying amount of round pegs, generous kindred spirits open to all and everything. 

Idea Soup
We gathered in packs, searching for who we were, and who we dreamed of becoming. Sitting on the floor in each other’s Res rooms, we’d talk ‘til late about the new ideas and feelings bursting through the floodgates of provincial high school frames of reference. It felt like wading through a thick soup of new ideas and sensations. We swapped music tapes, lent new books, and together watched mind-blowing films never screened in our small towns. Our teenage shells were cracked open liked fresh-boiled eggs, and what seemed like a kaleidoscopic Encyclopaedia Britannica poured in.

Emotional Hand Luggage
As well an expanding shared world of ideas, later into the night and many cigarettes later, more vulnerable feeling were laid on the table, in a candid sharing of regrets, hopes and fears. Things like our parents, how the distance from home had thrown their shortcomings and their effect on us into sharp relief. We’d vow not to repeat their mistakes. Most excitingly, we talked about girls, these beguiling, confounding creatures that a lot of from all boys’ schools were just discovering. These were not drunken confessions, but sober, earnest moments of trust. We’d wake in the morning feeling a bit bare, but knowing what we’d shared was in a safe place. 

After the tight-lipped constipation of school, it was a revelation to finally find people with the same dry sense of humour, and who knew Monty Python! I met so many people who saw hilariously saw things from such an odd, hilarious point of view, you’d wonder what they were on. Our easy bond was a daily, irrepressible sense of humour, shared jokes that’d have you throwing your head back with laughter and giggling ‘til your stomach ached. 

We Learned More from Each Other Than From Our Lecturers
After the mummification of high school, my life began for real in the first weeks of Rhodes. Revelations, insights, and friendships for life were shaped in those early few months. As Prof. Brookes, my art lecturer said, “Students learn the most from each other, not from us”.

"Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young."
- Kurt Vonnegut

1 comment:

WendyS said...

If the world were more peopled with giants like Robert Brookes,I'd feel less dwarfed by my own potential.
I do miss him.