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Friday, February 13, 2009

San Martin de Porres

I don’t even remember her name. She had light brown or mousy -not quite blond- hair. She had glasses, which she only wore occasionally, for some lessons. She was beautiful -well, who knows. I thought so.

Having done disastrously badly in my fourth year of secondary school, my father moved me from my enormous state secondary (which had a very good academic reputation) to a little local secondary (which did not). St Martin of Porres, it was called. The premises were basic and a little bit tatty but sufficient, the classes were much smaller and I wasn’t one year younger than everybody else, there was in fact a wide mix of ages and backgrounds. That was when I discovered that I wasn’t a weirdo or a monster, that the fact that I didn’t get along or like what everybody else in my class at Liceo Luis Ezpelosin liked, or that I was not like them, in so many ways, did not mean that it was me who was the strange one. At the smaller school I was one of the gang in a way that I had never been at the Ezpelosin secondary. In some ways, the year I spent at that school may have saved me, or at least changed my life for the better.

It was inevitable, however, that I would unrequitedly fall in love with the princess of the class. I always do that,;I still do, She was clever and gentle, though, and gently steered me towards a calm friendship, instead of making fun of me. Maybe I was on my way to becoming normal, after a fashion.

The head of the school was a black gentleman from, I seem to remember, Barbados. Always impeccably dressed in a dark suit, starched white shirt, quite formal and severe. His name was Walrond or Walcond, had a deep resounding voice and inspired respect -not terror or the simple fear of being caught doing something wrong, but respect. That was new to me. He was also our English language teacher (of course and although I didn’t need to take the subject I remember often going to his lessons.

There were the parties. I discovered I wasn’t an outsider for liking Jimi Hendrix, the Doors or the Jefferson Airplane instead of Pete Rodriguez or the Billo’s Caracas Boys. Eventually I would learn to like that Latin popular music, when it no longer had for me those resonances of unhappy days of feeling an outcast in secondary school, of feeling and sometimes been made to feel different to your classmates. i did make the mistake of taking a bunch of new records to one of those school parties and play at being DJ for a bit; which resulted in several of those records never been seen again. Maybe the moral was, then, not to lower the guard. The world still was a hostile place, even if it was much less so at that new place. It was, however, a brighter, happier interlude in my unhappy schooling years; at the end of the school year my father would re-locate me again to Liceo Luis Ezpelosin, much to my chagrin. I never would be happy in school again until, quite late and still a couple of years into the future at that point, I discovered the Escuela Superior de Musica and started studying music. Something had changed, however, and I was no longer afraid of it, of that part of the hostile outside world which was going to be my main environment again.

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