Sunday, July 20, 2008

In Transit four

While in high school the notion of being a priest obsessed me, leading me to the Jesuits. When they answered my query, they said that since I had not been in a Jesuit high school/ I should first attend Marquette University for one year. I knew I might be totally wrong, but I also knew I had to explore my desire; and so--with help from an aunt--I went to Marquette. My year there did not dissuade me, but it should have. The inner me was like two persons at odds with each other, a condition that was already at least seven years old. Had someone been able to follow me, that someone would have noted how the outer me mirrored the inner me. Two events that I want to relate would clearly show the split in me, but I am going to reveal something other. I was informed by another student in the dorm wing about a personality test of some kind. Some had taken it and, while that wasn't a sufficient prod for me to take it, I did. Actually, although at the time I didn't consider that possibility, the whole thing could well have been a ruse. I know opinions are formed about me, opinions I'm never made aware of. Anyway, the test said/ I lacked integrity. I dissed that result, but was unable to stop pondering it. I simply was not ready to face the truth. In that dorm wing that 1959/1960 year each room had two beds and two residents. Schroeder Hall was a huge dorm. In a room near the south end were two dark-skinned--Negroes was probably the term used then--residents. The one from Chicago was small like me. The one from Rochester, NY, was of medium build but over six feet tall. He and I got into evening bowling together at the university's lanes. He had a cooler character, and often tried to cool the temperature of mine. Usually--maybe always--on our return, we stopped at the White Tower restaurant for a quick snack such as a buttered bun. That was the extent of our relationship. I haven't forgotten his name. When the day came to head up to Minnesota north of St. Paul, a passenger with me (a high school classmate who had an older brother who was a Jesuit) on the back seat/ was a welcome surprise, not that he and I were friends or ever would be, but it was good to have someone to converse with. I had an uncle who for a while operated what was then popular and was called a teen bar. I told this passenger I had never been to a teen bar. He told me I hadn't missed anything. Of course, I didn't need to go out to a bar. There was a bar in our basement. Even with that, I wasn't a drinker those days. What I do remember were the parties my parents had and the frosted bar glasses, each of which had a clear keyhole and through each keyhole one could see a sexy lady painted inside. I also remember the cases of Kingsbury beer. Still, even though I ate lunch with three other guys during high school, and even though there was a large neighborhood of kids around us and I did get somewhat close to a few of them, I remained essentially distant. So we arrive at this grand property outside of St. Bonifacius, MN, where a structure shaped like a cross loomed. Priests and brothers and four years of seminarians were housed there. Each seminarian had his own room, and each was provided with a traditional Jesuit garb. For me it was perfect at the beginning. Somehow, while I was there, I and one who became and yet is a Jesuit, entered into a friendship of a kind. Memories from those Novitiate days are numerous. I did learn from that experience, but in the end I was not fit. So it was that on Pentecost Sunday in 1962, after having come within moments of dying from complications due to a ruptured appendix, I--after being blessed by one of the priests in a cloister walk while Mass was being celebrated within--exited. I did write poems while I was there. The most important of them are online over at Sprintedon Hollow (Salchert's Hermitage / Salchert's Hole). Further proof of part of what was wrong with me. Perhaps still is. One constant in my life is my push to learn. I am always on a learning curve. Problem is that by the time I have learned something/ much of its value has long passed. Lime vodka sweet. Guinness stout. Michelob dark. I was a mystic. Rather, I was a Miss Tick, and no Tock. - Rho00120 Gustav Holst The Planets Op.32 Neptune

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