From that point on, high school was never the same (overhead photo of my high school courtesy of Google Maps). As my junior year started (a month earlier), I decided against playing football. For me it had always been an outlet for outright violence -- I tried to (and occasionally did) hurt opposing players. I could no longer do that. I did continue to wrestle, though.
On Thursdays, when we usually had our meets, I would spend the few hours after school and before the match at Charlie's condo. For some reason, he wouldn't be around at that time, so he gave me the key to his place and I would go over there and meditate for an hour or so in his bedroom before heading back to school for the weigh-in and later match.
The school week always started for me on Sunday nights at the Santa Cruz Center meeting, where I'd check out a half-dozen of Guru's thin question and answer books. I'd take them to school the next day and pour through them ravenously. I was in pure, new convert, fanatic mode.
I often times wore my whites -- white shirt and white pants, the clothes male disciples were expected to wear to Center meetings -- to school. And on my jacket, I sported a campaign-style button with Guru's face on it. My dad had moved quickly from having to coerce me to cut my long hair to warning me not to cut it too short, worried I'd be selling books and dancing in the San Jose airport before long.
Almost by default, my grades began to rise from near failing to a solid "less than satisfactory," simply because I was no longer cutting classes and/or smoking dope. That's not to say I was actually doing my homework (I wasn't). During classes, I would sit with the text book open and covertly devour Astrology, the Supernatural and the Beyond, and other books by Guru.
Most of the other students took no notice. One morning, however, I entered the cafeteria before class and saw Charlie sitting at one of the tables. He looked up, saw me, and we smiled at each other. Another student saw the silent exchange between Charlie and me and pointed it out to others sitting near by. "Did you see how they looked at each other," he asked. "They smile like they're in love with each other!"
Funny. We did love each other, but not in the way that our classmate suspected (not that there's anything wrong with that).