For those of you who have read at least one of my other online journals, you probably are aware that I have written quite a bit of personal history. I'll include those stories here, as well, only I will not censor it as heavily as before, because this is my personal journal, dammit. What I plan on doing is posting entries for each headmate and then later creating a directory for future navigation.
So this is the story of how I "met" Ed.
For many years, I lived in a low-income neighborhood, and I would’ve gone to a dangerous high school if I hadn’t been sent to a conservative Christian private school on scholarship (even though my family is agnostic). But, as you might have guessed, there was a tradeoff: although I was physically safe in the classroom, there were a lot of instances in which I witnessed hated, ignorance, and discrimination that was justified by organized religion. It was odd getting an education at that place, because it was high-quality in regards to history, literature, and the humanities. But math and sciences? Total disregard for basic facts. My algebra textbook was littered with Scripture and inaccurate directions on how to solve equations. In order to pass math exams and get the SAT score I needed for college admission, I had to teach myself through the Internet and ignore the bullshit teachers said in class. Teachers and students constantly harassed me for not participating in the social life of the school or going to church, when all I wanted was to be happy doing my own thing. They misunderstood my introversion as loneliness, when in reality I was used to moving around constantly and keeping to myself. I was friendly to everyone I met. It’s just not in my nature to connect with anyone right away, not because I’m afraid but because my empathy tends to go bananas if I’m not careful. We also had some guy come in during the weekly chapel and “prove” that humans and dinosaurs co-existed, because it was so obvious that God created everything in seven literal days.
Yeah. I know.
Ed first arrived in late 2004. I was 14. At the time, I had frequent dreams of snakes, often twinning with each other or coiling up along a staff. One in particular was of a giant metal cross within a castle, and I could see a serpent wind its way along the bar. Nothing dramatic, and I don’t recall the plot of the dream, but I distinctly remember that image.
Some months afterward, I had a friend who was really into the first Fullmetal Alchemist anime series, and she spent a lot of time and energy trying to get me to watch it. I was not interested in anime at the time, but I would see images and gifs of Ed while browsing the Internet. Not surprising, as the series was already popular. One night over winter break, I decided to read the first volume of the manga on a whim. I liked it…didn’t feel anything special, besides casually noticing that Ed’s coat has a snake-and-cross symbol on the back, which is called the “flamel cross” in the series. It is a tutelage symbol that the Elrics wear to show that they were students of Izumi Curtis, but it is also something that can be found in alchemical documents. I didn’t know about this until I was an adult. For the moment, I was just curious about the fact that I saw it in my sleep and then here it was in a manga.
Next, I checked out the anime. About halfway through the first episode, his “presence” or energy signature came rushing in, and he started talking. It was beyond bizarre as I had zero intention of becoming fascinated with this series, let alone have its main character sitting there beside me on the couch. But I rolled with it, because I secretly liked his company. What was curious about him, however, was that his personality was a bit more refined, and there were a couple of instances during those early days in which he said that he was actually a little older than the version of Ed I was seeing in the canon.
On Christmas Day, he said that he would like to stick around. I didn’t understand why he would, considering that we’re polar opposites in regards to temperament, yet it certainly didn’t seem likely that he would change his mind.
About a week after returning to school, I ended up staying after class to have a talk with a teacher about my spirituality, and I was brazen enough to start arguing with him about church attendance. I no longer remember the exact details of the conversation, but my question was that if we were to assume that God dwells within the believer, then why would church attendance be necessary? His response was that the church was there to keep the believer clean and pure, and I said that I didn’t quite understand his reasoning, because we had already established that he believed the Holy Spirit transforms the person and that other people are always corrupt because of Original Sin (which I personally did not agree with). At that point, he said that I was promoting the violation of the Sacred Body and that I was destined for Hell. It did not make me feel good. Both teachers and other students had problems with his cockiness and leaps in logic, but it was a small comfort considering that he was my homeroom teacher. I suspect that even the senior pastor was not a huge fan of him, either.
I remember Ed observing that conversation, and he was unusually quiet as I exited the classroom. I walked all the way outside the church, sat down on one of the benches to wait for my ride home, gazed thoughtfully at the sky…and then I suddenly turned to Ed, shrugged, and said, “To hell with that guy.”
He laughed at that.
And that was the start of my first two-way connection with Edward Elric. I opened up a bit, and pretty soon I was sharing personal stories and observations with him whenever I wasn’t busy or catching up on his canon. I found out that we actually had a few things in common: I grew up in a nomadic family, so the concept of staying in one place and calling it “home” was foreign to me. Most of my memories take place by the roadside or inside of hotels rather than suburban houses or parks. There were times where I did want a home and all the good things that come with it—long-term friends, economic stability, belonging to a community—but on the other hand, I became extremely restless and unhappy after I lingered around anywhere for too long. It was ingrained into my being. Every summer, it was time to start over. Ed was actually the first person who understood that. Mundies would look at me like I had grown two heads whenever I tried to explain those conflicting feelings, simply because they were lucky enough to have a routine. And money.
If you’re familiar with Fullmetal Alchemist, I’m sure it’s easy for you to imagine the sort of comments Ed made as he listened to the more belligerent religious teachers and pastors at my school talk:
“Yeah, that’s nice and all, but do these ideas work? Can they change anything that you can see or experience, or are you people just going to sit around and guilt-trip everyone but yourselves and swap ideas on how to kiss your god’s ass more?”
Ed was a great companion to have at a time when my home life became especially harsh and Christianity of the worst possible kind was being shoved down my throat. I couldn’t understand why he wanted to hang around me specifically, but he persisted in establishing a connection until I finally responded back. I had Indiana Jones as a parental soulbond beforehand, but he had never come on this strong before, and the fact that Ed was based on an animated character really freaked me out. I had no idea that soulbonding is a thing at the time, so for all I knew, I was a nutcase. As if seeing ghosts and sensing energy weren’t enough, now I had this anime character following me around. Fantastic. I was still young and shy, so it was easy for me to get the canon Ed and the soulbond Ed confused, and I kept thinking that the more negative parts of his personality would show up. This only turned out to be paranoia. Ed may occasionally encourage making a bold move when it is not appropriate, but he has always been open, kind, and protective towards me since day one. It did not quite fit with his canon personality, though I suppose if you’re someone from the outside looking into all the secrets a person carries and seeing them with compassion, that clears away some barriers.