When I was in high school my favorite class was no surprise, art, specifically Graphic Design. I wasn't fearless enough then to paint or draw. It was long before the time where computers did most of the work, in fact I remember the few Macs the art department did have were these seemingly obscure, complex machines that I never really learned how to use very well. It was mostly manual cut and paste, for logos, color studies, font and letter design, and I even remember cutting by hand an entire envelope of perfect 1 inch circles for one of our graded assignments. It turned out my inner perfectionist had a knack for exactitude which I am still, to this day, trying to further unwind. We used actual sheets of pantone paper, which I loved and so clearly remember the texture of, and an exacto knife was the main tool of the trade. Ah, the good old days.
As a senior, I remember being invited with some of my other graduating classmates to my art teacher's house for a kind of farewell soire. We had all been in that class together for what was a good chunk of our high school days and the group was a bit of an eclectic tribe unto itself, a very unique one that transcended all the regular day to day cliques and a veritable social melting pot centered around creativity. I loved that about this class. So she and her partner, her husband I think (but who had a different last name - it all was kind of unclear back then), who was also an art teacher at the high school, had this party.
The two of them lived in a nearby town on the fringe of downtown Boston, a community that I now know is an epicenter for artists and academics of all sorts. It makes perfect sense that this was there home, but at the time it seemed very exotic and exciting... artists, the city, a progressive relationship - to a suburban teen it was all pretty cool. I don't know if this was a traditional yearly get together for them, but I recall even then thinking this gathering seemed a bit unusual. I imagine the school administration would not have loved the idea of blurring the teacher-student boundaries, and now that I think about it I wonder how I even convinced my parents that this was a good idea. So of course it was memorable.
It wasn't really the details of the afternoon that stuck with me, in fact I can't really remember the specific events just random sensory moments here and there, it was more the flavor of that experience - my first taste of a kind of bohemian sensibility and lifestyle that I am inherently drawn to, although I didn't know it at the time. Their apartment was full of nooks and crannies filled with books and art and decorative oddities that couldn't be found at Bradlees or Jordans. The kitchen was small, in true city style, and filled with interesting food and lively conversation. They played music for us and we shared stories and laughter and maybe even a drink or two. It wasn't scandalous, it was a celebration. Our teacher even got a bit emotional and misty eyed over the whole affair of reminiscing and saying goodbye. This meant something to her, but I'm not entirely sure what. It meant something to me too.
I've been thinking about this story and how that class really propelled my life in a meaningful direction. Even though I got a bit lost along the way figuring things out, the calling more a quiet internal vibration than a loud external shout, I eventually found my way back. In many ways, my life is now so similar to how that experience felt - richly creative, deeply connected, joyfully awakened and alive. It all makes perfect sense to me now.