An Angel on My Shoulder
I started ninth grade in 1981, the same as thousands of other ninth graders across the US. It was a new school with a new group of students and our first year in high school, so everything was new. The first days were spent getting our schedules and lockers, meeting our teachers, and trying to find our way to each of our classes before the tardy bell. The same basic things that happen to freshmen every year.
One small difference was that I had just moved to town, so all of the other students were new to me. That didn't stand out though as several junior high schools fed into a single high school. Most kids just thought I was from another school in the area. This saved me from most of the "Where are you from?", "Why did you move?" and "What's it like there?" type of questions that I usually got bombarded with. I thought that was a great improvement.
I was used to changing schools as my father's career had us moving every few years. I don't really know what he did, other than that it was associated with the military and no one was allowed to talk about it. Every few years someone in uniform would show up for dinner, and then a few weeks later we would move to a new location and a new fake job. They must think I'm really dumb to think Dad went from technical work at NASA, to a HR manager position in Washington DC, and now he's suddenly an administrator at the Barksdale AFB Hospital. He's never worked in the medical field, so he must be great at that. I might not know the truth, but I knew these "cover" jobs were just that. Since I didn't know anything, you might think it was fairly easy not to talk about it. I guess that's true, but I didn't let my parents know that I knew their secret. That made my keeping it a secret, a secret of my own.
Whatever my father did he made reasonably good money. Every time we moved we purchased a new house in a decent middle class neighborhood. As far as I knew we were not rich, but we didn't have to worry about money for clothes or groceries, and the bills always got paid. As a young teenager I didn't know much about money anyway, but it was never used as a reason we couldn't do things. I had a small allowance for Cokes, video games and incidentals, which kept me happy most of the time. I even got a bonus if I needed to watch my sisters.
One day, shortly after starting ninth grade, everything changed. I went from having a perfectly average life, to starting one of the most unusual lives on the planet. I don't know who chose me or why I was chosen, but I'm extremely grateful that I was. My only clue is a dream and one that is difficult to remember at that. I call him/it/them my guardian angel, because nothing else seems to fit. I suspect it's not religious based, as I never have attended church, but I have no other explanation. Perhaps Sir Arthur had a point, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." (Arthur C. Clarke). I still don't know, but whatever my guardian angel is, he makes my life interesting.