I was telling the Dude today about my high school years. He already knows all about it, but I brought up this goose I used to carry around with me in my OAC year (That's grade 13 to an non-Ontario folks, though it's a thing of the past now).
See, it might have been a duck, but I called it a goose. I was called "duck" by a number of boys in school for years, so I was more inclined to believe it was actually a goose. It went on for years, the teasing, though stopped for reasons that still remain vague to me. There may have been a variety of reasons.
In grade 11, my grandfather died and my mom was diagnosed with ovarian cancer within weeks of each other. In grade 12, my mother died and I moved in with my father at grandma's house, where I lived with his substance abuse problems full time and was randomly kicked out several times. Then in OAC we moved out of grandma's and she died soon after. Around this point I was dumped for the first time. And that's just the stuff I can write publicly about. It was a rough three years.
When I attended a friend's birthday party in OAC, she was given this stuffed goose and I for some reason felt drawn to it. My friend was good. She pretty much allowed me to adopt the thing when parting with it at the end of the night seemed to upset me.
This goose became a sort of talisman/security blanket/compulsion with me. I had to carry it around. I took it to class. He sat upright on the corner of my desk. He came with me to lunch. He was in my hands on the bus. I never left for school without it.
Did I lose my mind a bit? I wouldn't say that. But I think something in me was broken, damaged and in need of comforting. A little regression maybe. People questioned me about the thing, yes, but actually, I don't remember getting too much flack for it. Teachers looked the other way after laughing weakly at my confusing behaviour. Popular kids who had been hurtful to me years earlier said nothing. My friends accepted the goose as par for the course and life went on.
I don't know why I brought it up today, but my oldest friend posted this picture on Facebook of me and another friend of ours in high school, and there was the goose.
I showed it to the Dude, who I think never fully believed me. Photo evidence of a burgeoning teenage breakdown, held in check from a benign addiction to a stuffed animal. We do what we can to stay okay. Some kids would have started drinking. Others would have done drugs. I carted a goose around. I'm comfortable with that.