High school. The very words lead me to draw in a big breath and exhale as if I am Louis Armstrong blowing a trumpet.
For six years of my life, day after day, I turned up to the same three-story red brick building from the 1950s joining the other nine hundred or so students lined up in rows in the concrete quadrangle to have my name checked off the roll. The building still stands as it did back then, relatively unchanged a static presence in so many students’ lives, its rigid structure in stark contrast to their ever changing and evolving sense of self.
That person. That high school me seems so distant from the person I am today. I barely recall her; I can only remember fragments of her. Yet perhaps she is not all that different to the person I am today? Perhaps it is just the passage of time that makes her feel so distant. It was a different time, before mobile phones, Facebook, Twitter and Google. The latest fancy pants technology was CDs and I would have to wait until the end of high school until I finally got a CD player of my own. The first in our home.
Two clear constants, a bridge from that time to now, has been my interest in photography and politics.
Prior to the digital age photography was too expensive, out of my reach as a realistic hobby – equipment, film and processing meant that learning was costly. There was a time in High School using the school’s equipment when I was able to learn, encouraged to experiment and grow. The assistance and support I received from my neighbour Tom will be with me for my life. He would spend his Sunday with me in his dark room at the back of his garage teaching me about processing and helping me finish high school assignments. He would overwhelm me with his passion for it and had so much faith in me, believing that I understood all the mathematics involved with mixing chemicals, using light meters, determining exposure times for different types of paper and so on and so on. I would listen intently trying to absorb all the riches of his knowledge but as there was so much eventually I would just let the information wash over me, unable to concentrate any longer hoping it would just somehow be absorbed.
Politics was my other passion. I can’t remember a time in my life when I haven’t been interested in the political ins and outs of the country. It has always excited me. The manoeuvring, the game, the policies, it was in high school that I developed my love of question time. Keating was a master and a thrill to observe. I enjoyed political history and political economics and most of all I loved talking politics, with family, with friends, with teachers... with anyone really.
Decades later I find myself still snapping away with my now digital camera, the learning curve continuing and still enthralled and captivated by the politicking in our nation’s capital. Some things have changed, but some things have stayed the same.