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Saturday, July 15, 2006

How to Survive High School, Easter Hutton Style

In case you’re wondering—my paranormal “gifts” would rate a B-, at best. I have the occasional vivid psychic dream; sometimes I pick up vibes from my deceased mother or grandfather; and once in a while, I know what’s about to happen before it does. But, trust me, if I were a teen living in Easter Hutton’s world, nobody would recruit me for Homefree—an underground organization for students with paranormal talent.

Easter isn’t sure that her ability to astral-project is a gift. Sometimes it feels more like a curse. I think back on the “gifts” I had in high school and remember feeling the same way. I was good at creative writing, acting, and learning foreign languages. But those aptitudes didn’t do much to make me popular, let alone sexy. Or confident about my future.

I wanted to be the cheerleader rather than the artistic, moody loner I really was. True, I knew how to be funny, and that helped. But mostly, I was dramatically intense. I had to be; my life was hugely misunderstood. To underscore that, I dressed as if I couldn’t possibly belong to my conservative middle-class family. Despite my strict mother and the school dress code, I managed to look outlandish. I wore the most make-up and the most eccentric accessories I could find.

Confession: I wore wigs to school. Every color, every style. On some level, I think I was hoping my fellow students wouldn’t recognize me. Or would want to meet the Real Me, whoever that was. If I could have astral-projected instead of wearing a blue-black wig one day, an auburn one the next, I’m sure I would have. . . .

My point? Easter’s ability to zap herself to another time and place, even though she can’t control it, expresses a basic human desire. How many times in high school—and adult life—do people just want to be somewhere else?

“Get me out of here” when the going gets awful. Or awful boring.

I now suspect that my desire to be elsewhere was the reason I became an actor and a writer. I wanted to keep wearing wigs. Sometimes, as an actor, I was required to wear one. Happy day!

As a writer, I own a vast metaphorical wig collection, and I don a different one for each point-of-view character. Easter Hutton’s is flat black. I never owned one like that in real life, but wearing hers has taught me how I survived high school.

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