Faces swim past my mind’s eye as I tried to sleep today. Every time I would close my eyes I would see a scene from the past. Sitting at a barbecue and seeing a beautiful blonde with a wicked grin and rainbow streaks come limping across the lawn on crutches with a broken foot. This was Tarrynce’s girlfriend Anastasia. She was a hairdresser, and she always did the craziest stuff to her hair. For years it was black on one side, and white on the other. But until now I’d forgotten that when I saw her the first time, she reminded me strongly of what Rainbow Brite would look like all grown up.
Tarrynce himself, tall and lean. He was the man in the crown the first night, and he intimidated me a bit. He was a third degree student, which meant he was in amongst the highest of the Elders. He had a predator’s smile, but when he was with her, or with his son, you could see him light up with love. His sandy hair was cut short, in a military style, with a well-groomed mustache and goatee. His eyes burned intensity, I learned early on that it was difficult to impress Tarrynce, but well worth it if you could. He was someone I admired, and I always tried to do my best in front of him.
One Saturday night, probably my second or third, I was sitting at the feet of Aries as usual and a woman strolled into the temple room. She had black leather pants, black leather corset, jet black hair, alabaster skin, and blood-red lips. Aries stood and greeted her with a deep kiss. This was Sabryna then, his girlfriend. She was everything I had expected from him. Gorgeous, curvy in all the right places, and with a naughty streak wider than her nice streak could ever hope to be. She was beautiful, dark and dangerous looking as him, and very friendly. She was a hairdresser too, although I didn’t know it at the time. All I knew then was that she was sex walking, and I was jealous of her in ways that my relatively innocent mind didn’t even really comprehend.
Ryver. He was an 18-year-old boy who acted like … well… an 18-year-old boy. And by that I mean he was rowdy and ill-mannered, and most of the Elders spent a great deal of their time telling him to stop being a jackass. He wasn’t around long after I started there, but I remember him. He was part of the tapestry that was making up my life back then. A tapestry I haven’t looked at in detail in a very long time.
Diana. Aah my female instructor. I’ve mentioned her once already, but she deserves more than I’ve given her so far. You see, I was so fixated on Aries in the beginning of my classes, and she was so quiet, that it was a long time before she and I became close. But she attended my wedding. The wedding that Sabryna performed for me. But that’s a long time in the future. Let me step back to long class nights with Diana. She was the quiet one of the two. While Aries would pace the Temple Room like a caged tiger, she would sit in her chair and watch us all intently. Her smile was wide open and friendly when we did well. Sometimes it was small, quiet. I often wondered what she was remembering when she would watch the class and have that little secret smile on her face. Her hair was long, dyed a spectacular shade of red, but often she would let it go months longer than it should, so that most of my memories of her have the top of her hair a shining silver, pulled into a bright red ponytail. I don’t think it was intentional, but the effect was lovely. When she spoke her voice was quiet, but we could tell when she was displeased. None of us wanted to displease her. She was never unkind, but when it was needed she was firm. I can see here there, so clearly, her hands resting on her plentiful stomach, watching us as we scratched down the textbook answers to the questions we had been asked in class. Watchful, patient. She loved us, loves us still. If there’s one thing I know for sure from that time, it’s that Diana would have stood in front of dragons for any one of us. And she would have won.
And then there were my classmates. 32 of us started in that class. We initiated three. By the second introduction class we’d dropped down to about 20-something, by the third we were down to 18, and by our first night in class there were 16 of us. Half had dropped out just from the introductions. I’d like to say that some of them came back eventually, but only one ever did, and that was well over a year down the line.
Who WAS in my class with me?
Ariel. The ginger I mentioned previously. A red-haired young woman, a year younger than myself, who had a sweet little baby at home. She was one of the ones who had stayed at the fundraiser late with me, and in our first weeks in the class we became good friends very quickly. If we weren’t in the Temple together, we were at one of our homes studying. And studying. And giggling over how hot Aries was. And then studying some more. We walked down the street practicing our memorization, and we stayed up late at night questioning each other on our chapter of the week.
NightWing. She was the one who already knew everyone. As it turns out she’d been in classes before, and dropped out before receiving her initiation. This happened pretty regularly, and was no big deal NightWing eventually became one of my closest friends. She was there by my side for my entire year and a day. We didn’t spend much time together at first, because since she had already been through the classes it was hard for her to study with us. She was a live wire, full of music and joy and life. And a dirty sense of humor that I really appreciated. Her shoulder length wavy hair was often colored some shade of red or another, although sometimes it was blonde too. She was the self-appointed camp mother, taking care on every one of our camping trips to make sure that everyone was fed and warm, and we appreciated it as many students had never been camping in their lives before the Temple.
Allisandra and Albreeana. The mother and daughter duo, taking their classes together, finding their path with the most important person in their lives. A true Gilmore Girls type duo. Allisandra was the daughter, Albreeana the mother. They were always friendly, always had their answers and memorization down, and always had a positive thing to say about anything you asked them. Neither of them was able to make the fundraisers on a regular basis, so I didn’t see much of them outside of classes. Still, I adored them both and wish that I had spent more time getting to know them both.
AspenSky. The older woman I had noticed at the beginning. She was a lovely lady, but I don’t know much about her. I remember that she was a doctor, although a doctor of what I have no idea. She sat in a chair instead of the floor, stayed next to the back door which was always propped open for her because she was sensitive to smoke, and very rarely attended anything that wasn’t required. This means I saw her at class, Sabbat practices and Sabbats, and that was about it. Sometimes she’d make an appearance for lectures, but it wasn’t often that she would. I know that at some point in the year she invited us to her home to swim and study for mid-terms, and that was a lot of fun. But for the most part I considered her aloof, and she kept herself separate from most of us.
SilentPaws and her boyfriend Jet. SilentPaws was in a wheelchair. That was the first thing one would notice about her when looking. Hearing her speak the first thing you would notice is the strong German accent. These things could be observed by anyone. What it took someone who knew her to see was the true beauty of someone who’d had a rough life, and decided to be stronger for it. He rode motorcycles, and she loved to help fix them. They drove an old beat up station wagon, which we would eventually pack up for the sabbats with 4 of us and all of our stuff for the long drive up the mountain. That car earned our class the nickname “The Pagan Bunch”. They were vulgar and loud their home would never make the cover of Better Homes and Gardens, but then neither would mine. In other words, I loved them.
These are just a few, but these are some of the people who surrounded us those first months in the Temple. They helped me find my way, and I helped them.