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In Dangerous Territory

November 22, 2018
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Entering twelfth grade was… interesting. I had the option to take an AP English course, which could help with college entry. Several male friends and I signed up at the end of junior year. We were assigned a reading list to finish over the summer in preparation for the class.

The first day of senior year, I head to class after class, eventually making it into AP English. I take a seat in one of those awfully hard chairs attached to a tiny table barely able to hold a notebook. Students are filtering in, and I’m waiting for these friends to walk in the door. Not that the other students weren’t friends, but it started getting awkward. Girl after girl entered. No boys.

It wasn’t long before I figured out they weren’t showing up. They had abandoned me in dangerous territory. I’ll never forget sitting there and the teacher saying something to the effect of, “One boy in the class. This is going to be a fun year.”

All of the girls smiled, laughing maniacally.

It was a fun year. I learned a lot. A lot of things I needed to know. A lot of things I never wanted to know. In the end, I was better for it. I sat there quietly, smiled, and paid attention.

That’s one thing I don’t think people realized about me back then. I may have been sitting quietly, but I was absorbing everything that was being said and done. I still do it today. Examine the situation, watch body language, decipher a person’s true thoughts.

It’s something that has helped with creating characters. Being able to remember all of those people and their experiences. It’s shaping the worlds I am building.

Back then, I didn’t know any of this. I read the books that were assigned. Most of them were not my cup of tea. The class was primarily a discussion group. We’d go around the room asking what people thought of different books.

I’d ultimately say, “It was ok.”

Until we read Lord of the Flies.

My response, “This was awesome!”

It seemed like everyone else hated it. Different viewpoints and all.

We would write various reports on the books and other subjects. I remember on many occasions the teacher reading my writing and saying things like, “This is really well written. You have a unique writing style. I like it.”

I didn’t put much stock into the words, but it was really the first time I remember somebody liking my writing. It was also the first time that English class didn’t seem like a typical English class. Not to say it never happened. My memory is pretty hazy from before high school.

Those comments would always sit in the back of my head. For years, I heard the voice, remembered the girls in class, and didn’t know why. After years of counseling, I finally realized – I was on a writing journey, long before I knew it.

I don’t necessarily believe in a fixed destiny, but I do believe in manifest destiny. There are things put in our path to help us along the way. We can ignore them or acknowledge them. If you’re thinking of writing, landscaping, making movies, whatever it is, just look back and I’m sure you’ll find some encouragement somewhere along the way.

— Will

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