When I was 8, we moved to Piedmont, a wealthy Oakland suburb, occupying my Aunt's house while they were in Guam for a year. The school had a library, which I don't remember my Ann Arbor school having. I checked out some books on history there, short books for children I'm assuming, but they purported to tell the history of the entire world. I was hooked on history for several years, and on reading. I had learned to read, of course, and read children's books like those by Milne, but this was qualitatively different. I had an actual intellectual interest for the first time. I had been a slow student in Ann Arbor, doing laborious worksheets at a snail's pace. Now it was as if a switch had been flipped in my mind. They played basketball in California, a game I had never played before, and I was conscious of being unathletic for the first time. In Michigan we had skated, played around in the snow, etc... but I had not even played catch with my dad. He realized very late and started teaching me sports, but it never really took with me. So being unathletic and also a bit bookish seemed to go well together.
I still didn't excel at classroom schoolwork, but I didn't need to. All I had to do was read books.
Around the same time I was baptized. Something great was going to happen right after the baptism: you were to feel the holy spirit descend on you. For me, it didn't happen, although I naively expected it to. So all of a sudden I also doubted religion too. Baptism washed away your sins, so of course I decided not to sin anymore...
I was enthusiastic about baseball, but never any good at it. I got one hit in my entire baseball career. It was a double. It was one of the few times where I felt what it was like to hit the ball just right. The bat hits the ball and you can feel in your hands that the contact was complete. My "single perfect swing", as I put it in a poem once.
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