Facing Front: Eyes Right… Eyes Left…

by Alden Cole on January 21, 2015 · 0 comments

“Prosperity depends more on wanting what you have than having what you want.” – anonymous

2EyesRight1WP1961: Divas ‘R’ Us – Eyes Right… Eyes Left… Four sets of drawings done as a junior/senior in high school to amuse myself between bouts with homework and occasional depression about being an oddball seemingly intent only on developing my math skills.
2EyesRight2WP Now I’d be called a ‘dork’. Then the word used was ‘square’. An athlete I was not. Truthfully I was pretty uncomfortable in my skin, but I wasn’t exactly sure why. Making these pictures was part of my early but misunderstood art therapy.
2EyesLeft1WPThey express what I really desired to be in my heart of hearts, but knew was impossible, unless I wanted to follow in the footsteps of Christine Jorgensen. Intriguing as the idea sounded, it was out of the question; I wasn’t ready for that kind of derision.
2EyesLeft2WPTruth to tell, I was a cowardly lion just wanting some respect, despite the fact that I’m a curious Gemini. In reality I was probably just one more sweet sixteen-year old boy growing up in America in the early 60s who really thought I’d be a lot happier if I were a girl on my way to being a woman, than being the strange boy I was, on my way to being… What? I wasn’t sure. But manhood looked and sounded pretty scary to me. Too much responsibility that I certainly didn’t feel ready for. What to do? Grin and bear it! as they say? To cover, I became a Great Pretender as a teenager, ‘laughing and gay like a clown’ hoping I’d figure something out eventually if these perverse desires for a boyfriend, instead of a girlfriend, didn’t somehow go away, allowing me to become ‘normal’.

JuntoWPNevertheless, I kept working at appearing ‘normal’ to myself, as well as my peers in high school. My first year at Thornton, I had jumped from a grammar school class size of eight to over two hundred freshman. At first a bit overwhelmed by such radically enhanced social interaction, I eventually adjusted to being a small fish in a much bigger pond than the one I had grown up in. By senior year I was involved in several extra-curricular activities: Glee Club and its double-quartet spinoff The Maroon Crooners, both Latin and French Clubs, the Tripod yearbook staff, the One-Act Play. I was also lucky enough to be selected for inclusion in a group named Junto, the brain-child of favorite teachers Harriet Patrick and Robert Stanton. Derived from the word junta, it was a small group composed of juniors and seniors, who met monthly – at first in the library after school, eventually in the evenings at the home of Harriet Patrick – to discuss issues and topics not covered in normal high school classroom settings: the fine arts of architecture, painting and sculpture and the lively arts of music, dance, theater; philosophy and psychology; the phenomena of culture, western civilization, even a brief history of food: all heady stuff for a kid still physically living in the country and journeying into the city each day to get a dose of education, and still not sure where it was all leading…

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