The problem with being the big fish in the small pond is that if you decide to jump to a pond with more fish like yourself, you're just one more fish.
My mother told me that when I dragged myself out of bed the day after high school graduation in 1986, AKA the Morning After My World Collapsed. The rather melodramatic hail and farewell speech to which Hopkins had treated me was still rattling around in my head as I lethargically ate my bowl of cereal sometime approaching noon that day. I looked like ten miles of bad road, having cried myself to sleep when I finally gave up and came in the house around five a.m. .
I left for college that summer with vengeance in my heart. I came home with an attitude that manifested almost immediately in band practice, when I told the drum major to go to hell, in front of God and everybody. When she rushed off the podium to confront me, I set my drum on the ground and told her, "None of you people matter. All I have to do is get through the next eight months and then you don't exist anymore."
Band was the most important thing in my life. What I had done would have gotten me suspended from school under the previous director. The new band director shrugged it off, reset the drill, and told me to take a few minutes to collect myself. During the next water break, my friends rushed to talk me out of quitting, something unthinkable and horrifying that had never crossed my mind before.
The funny thing is that I meant it. Hopkins was gone and I didn't give a damn what anybody thought anymore.
(Of course, at that point it was August and he was still in town, but he might as well have been dead and buried, for what he'd said to me on that fateful night.)
For the rest of the school year, I took zero prisoners and gave zero foxes, which was made geometrically more difficult by my sister's sudden challenge to the popularity pecking order as a mere freshman. I subscribed to a scorched earth policy that firebombed anybody who dared step on the trigger.
I didn't care anymore.
Either fortunately or unfortunately, depending on one's perspective, I care too much to be that reckless these days. While Hopkins is nominally in my life again, I am weary of hearing how the parade has passed him by, when he marched right over me without looking back a long time ago.
...and dread the day/when dreaming/ends...