Thomas Wictor

My Whole Story

My Whole Story

There it is. Right there. Everything. My whole story in one image.

KateBass

When I first saw this photo in 1980, I didn’t play the bass, and Kate Bush scared me. Small, dark-haired, big-eyed, provocative, theatrical, musician-weirdo. With a bass. Not my type. So why did I buy the magazine with the photo, take it home, and look at it every day?

I had no idea why the image so discombobulated me. I mean, it was just a photo of a famous singer. What did it have to do with me?

And why the intense attraction-repulsion? What was the worst that could happen if I got together with someone like that?

*          *          *

Before I actually began working [at the school], the man who convinced me to apply to the school invited me to a party where I met several of my now-colleagues. They were a friendly bunch–Americans, Brits, Canadians, Australians, and Kiwis. I hoped things would work out. A strange moment occurred when I met an attractive American woman who shook my hand and didn’t let it go. She was black but had light grayish-green eyes, exactly like the famous Afghan girl on the cover of the June 1985 issue of National Geographic.

“Oh,” she said, gripping my hand with both of hers and leaning in close to examine my face intently. She looked puzzled and then smiled. “You’re going to be so happy.”

I didn’t know what to say except, “I hope so!” She didn’t seem drunk; there was something motherly and reassuring about her, even if what she said to me was bizarre. She let go of my hand, gave me a complicated look of affection and what seemed to be sympathy, and walked away.

“I see you’ve met our witch,” a guy said to me. “She’s psychic. It’s creepy how right she is.”

“Well, she told me I’m going to be happy, so that’s all right with me.”

On my first day at work, Conan introduced me to Carmen, a fellow teacher. She was small and stunningly beautiful, with a magnificent mane of black hair; dark eyes; and a pale, freckled face. We shook hands.

This is what I wrote in my journal a few weeks later.

The second I saw her, I fell instantly in love. Kaboom. I saw her, and I said to myself, “Oh. There you are. I’ve been looking all over for you. Where the hell have you been?

Ghosts and Ballyhoo, page 46

*          *          *

Before that moment I didn’t believe in anything. Not God, not love, not magic, and certainly not life. All I believed in was getting drunk.

And playing the bass. I believed in the bass. Still do, actually.


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