A Darker Path: Part 8 – Life Changes

This is becoming a saga….

Something New, Something Old

This was part of the building I was in when I graduated in 1995. It didn’t look like this in 1990.

I had mentioned previously that the choice as to what I was going to do after high school was one that was rather made for me. I really didn’t know what I wanted to do, and still was having some difficulty defining who I was as a person. With some logical support from my parents, and a small amount of interest in the subject, I applied for Computing Science at Curtin, and surprised myself by getting in.

It was an interesting prospect going to university. The one thing that was most important to me, was that I didn’t know anyone who was also going. That was both scary, and absolutely thrilling. If I didn’t know anyone going, then no one would know me. It was like a fresh start, and this spot of hope was rather suddenly dashed with a phone call.

From out of the blue, someone with whom I had had very little to do with from school, somehow got my number. They rather eagerly asked me if I was doing Computing Science at Curtin, to which I replied honestly, yet cautiously, that I was.

“GREAT! Then we can enrol together!” And that was pretty much it. Suddenly a part of my past was following me to what was meant to be a new beginning. I was somewhat disheartened, but I was “too nice” to say otherwise, and surely enough, on enrolment day, we enrolled together.

Now, I want to point out that my animosity to this arrangement was not toward the person per se. It was what they represented, and I know that is an unfair judgement to pass on someone you hardly know, but I did. I began to dread history repeating itself. As I look back, I suspect that they were scared in their own right, and were looking for whatever comfort they could, and I was just a convenient place to find it.

So I met up with… let’s call them X, grabbed and filled in forms, then proceeded to the lines. When we were finally asked to see one of the staff on hand to help with enrolment, we did so together, which I had noticed no-one else doing.

The man we sat in front of, with his strong, yet soft, drawling American accent, was also rather surprised by this arrangement.

“Ah, are your enrolling together?” he said with an exhale of breath.

As I went to speak, and X said “Yeah, we share the same brain.”

Both the man and myself glanced at X with curious expressions. I turned back to him and said, “Um, we went to the same school.”

“I see.” The smile on his face was rather telling, and I thought, “Oh my god. What a first impression this is going to make.”

We proceeded somewhat more orderly from then on, left, and I went to find some air. I don’t remember much of the rest of the day, other than hoping that this American was not going to be someone I would have to interact with on a regular basis.

Turns out, he was the course controller.

Nose on Stage

Turns out, going to University also helped my hay fever a little. I was no longer surrounded by the grasses and weeds that I was strongly allergic to. Instead, it was manicured gardens, and well-trimmed lawns. That wasn’t to say that it was gone. It had become more manageable, and seasonal. During the Spring months, it hit hard, and most drugs or treatments simply had no effect, but at least it wasn’t all round. I tended to stay indoors a lot because the air-conditioning helped immensely, and once I could drive, I always had the air-con on full.

I think it was in my first or second year where I discovered a particular drug that worked wonders for me, but there is a story behind that.

The youth group I had been a part of during my final years of high school had led to a youth based theatrical group, of which I became a part of. Operating in association with a local community theatre group, it was basically an eclectic group of young people doing some pretty crazy stuff together, and learning some basic theatrical skills. It was a youth group, and so I was the eldest, or one of at least, but acted more “youthful” than most of them. I loved it. I couldn’t get enough. At some point, we started putting together little survival scenarios, and we talked about putting together a small production. I wrote a short story that loosely tied up some of the individual work that was, done, this was taken by others and turned into a script.

The thing to note here, is that I did some research, and found some interesting things. I was looking up things that could act like nerve toxins… don’t ask. It’s a story for another time, and came across Belladonna. Some of its properties were of particular interest to me. Not the poisonous part, but the medicinal aspects. Pain relief, anti-inflammatory, and histaminic properties in particular. I had noticed this strange ingredient on a bottle of cold-and-flu tables I had taken previously, and I recalled it as I researched our short play.

For both better and worse, I began to depend on this unique drug, as it was the only thing that was able to control my hay fever effectively, and continuously. Pretty much anything else I ever tried lasted a few weeks, or six months at most. I kept getting asked the same thing by pharmacists, “You do know this makes you drowsy?” Thing is, it didn’t. So for the first time in almost a lifetime, I felt incredibly clear-headed.

Good from Bad

By the end of my first year, my last connection from school, X, was gone. They didn’t pass and left. They odd antics at the beginning of the year ended up working in my favour, as the course controller, one Steve Kessell, became a great friend and mentor to me. A relationship that would span many years.

I had rediscovered theatre, and in my second year, we presented our little Youth Theatre production, which actually went really well. Next thing I know, I am being asked to take on roles with the Stirling Players Theatre group. I started doing theatre on a regular basis.

In my second year, something interesting happened. I was asked to become a teacher.

Now, the Finale…

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2 thoughts on “A Darker Path: Part 8 – Life Changes

  1. What have you DONE Jeff, I now find myself scrolling down my emails for your next instalment! Fabulous! Keep going!

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