Does missing school for a court appearance counted as an excused absence? I would've been there regardless, but that was the sort of thing going through my head as we waited for our turn before the judge.
My friend, Dean, was defending himself in a minor car accident case with me, his passenger, serving as a corroborating witness. Weeks of preparation and a long history of bad television had convinced us that we would make a persuasive case, filled with research, diagrams, and head-turning eloquence. The reality was we had no defense whatsoever, which took the judge about five minutes to determine. My star turn consisted of answering one question and being reprimanded for overreacting to the judge's statements. We left thoroughly humbled.
My high school years can be neatly divided into pre-Dean and post-Dean. He was a year older than me and that's where the similarities ended. My pre-Dean life wasn't exactly conventional, but I was living comfortably within the boundaries of what I knew and liked.
Soon, nothing was familiar. High-speed driving was a skill worth practicing. The Who and The Clash were the only bands that mattered and any music worth listening to was worth listening to at maximum volume. Friday and Saturday nights drifted into the early morning as Hockey Night in Canada led to a card game followed by a midnight movie. Of course, this life was just high school for most, but it was new to me.
Every day there was a new album to listen to and movie that I should've seen years ago. First times became the new normal, including first car accident and court appearance.
I loved it all. It was a glimpse of what existed just beyond the familiar. Some of what I found remains part of my life even today; other things I left behind soon after. I hope the curiosity about what lies on the other side, though, is always with me.