The Evolving Atheist: Retracing Youth

It was August of 1991 and the good Catholic boy was flying back to Calgary with one of his school friends. There was a townhouse waiting for them that the boy’s parents had purchase in Calgary’s northeast neighborhood of Dalhousie. One of the boy’s cousins, a realtor, had brokered the deal and was waiting on the other end to take them to their new castle of sand.

The unit was part of a row housing set. The centre unit of five. The two hunkered in with nothing but a stereo and sleeping bags. The good Catholic boy’s family offered donations from tea pots to a microwave to a wok to toilet paper. That first morning, the two sat looking out at fresh snow on an August morning through the back sliding doors as Metallica welcomed the sandman on the stereo.

On first arrival, the good Catholic boy was asked by his cousin to be one of the godfathers for her son. The fact that the boy had doubts made this seem ironic to him. The fact that the only reason she chose him was that his cousin had five other people picked for the job…but none were Catholic and she needed him only because he was. It certainly was not treated like he was there because they really wanted him.

The good Catholic boy attended Sunday mass at St. Mary’s in order to have lunch with the family as they would all go to a couple of regular restaurants for their get together. He would then vanish and work at learning his Tarot Cards more and more.

The boy even landed a paying job as cantor leading the congregation singing at the Saturday evening mass. He was not very confident with this at all, but he got stronger with each week.

After only four months, the friend who had joined him on this voyage gave up. One snowy November night, the two sat watching Star Trek and the buddy informed the spiritual Pagan that he would be leaving.

On the first day of December, the buddy took his suitcase to the airport and returned to Toronto. The good Catholic boy never heard from his buddy again. Something had happened that sent his friend away, but he never did find out what. The boy was convinced that he had done something wrong. It would be years before he realized that the buddy running had nothing to do with him.

The evening of the opening ceremonies for the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, the good Catholic boy decided to experiment. He bought a case of twelve beer and took it home. First problem, he drank all but three that evening. Second problem, he had purchased an extra strong beer. He spent most of the next day kissing the toilet and quite thankful he had not poisoned himself. He would do this again, unfortunately, though he swore not to.

One Saturday after having listened to the gospel reading, the good Catholic boy listened as the priest started discussing the occult. It came up how evil the occult was, according to the priest. How those who followed it were Satan worshipers. The priest delved further and continued pointing out how psychics and gypsies were still amongst us and need to stop if they need to be stopped. He even commented on how he believed Tarot Cards should be burned.

The good Catholic boy had been working with the cards for two years at the time. He stopped listening and his mind screamed out that this priest did not have the right to judge him for the cards. The boy enjoyed the cards and was good at them, but he was no Satan worshiper.

After the service, the good Catholic boy died during a discussion with the priest. The priest only saw the black and white of his gospel teachings…not even Biblical, for that matter.

The next morning, completely out of protest, the boy went to the library. He found a book on Candle Magick and started his self education on the occult. The Pagan boy was born.

The boy would spend almost two years on his own. He would visit family locally, but just hid out on his own as much as he could. He would watch football and hockey games with himself secluded in his townhouse. He would buy pornographic magazines and even found one model who he could have fallen in love with just from her photos. Slowly, however, reality began to slip in and he discovered he would not be able to survive on a retail wage.

There was a brief time with a second roommate. This roommate was a rocker and his sometimes girlfriend. A strange couple that were simply, in the boy’s view, not mature enough to be doing what they were trying to do. It, too, was not meant to be as the boy came home to find the roommate and all his belongings gone…just gone…vanished into the thin Calgary air.

He did meet a young woman named Patty. They dated. They fucked a few times. Then they realized it was not going to work as they had nothing in common.

The boy would also spend his Saturdays with his grandmother and her sister. He would play body guard, they would buy him lunch…he saw this as a win-win scenario. It was humorous as the two short Irish women would scurry about the Woolco aisles as the boy would tower over them and watch as they snatched up whatever sale caught their fancy.

The boy gave up the townhouse and moved in with an aunt and uncle for the last eight months before he decided to return to Toronto himself.

Calgary was not the home he remembered as a ten year old. It was now a mean big city instead of the friendly place he recalled. It looked the same, but had evolved into a place that was hard and mean on an unsuspecting child. There was still something nibbling at his brain that he had unfinished business here.

He was convinced that he had no home. He no longer felt comfortable anywhere. Instead he just began to allow himself to feel comfortable everywhere. It did not matter whether the place was his or someone else’s place.

This was the beginning of a nomad existence. It would be years until her realized he was no longer a child. The spell that had been cast upon him as a little boy was starting to disintegrate.

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