Description of a Boy Growing into a Man
He had just turned thirteen, a newly minted man, and stood about five feet three inches tall, although he would grow another four inches in the next several years. He was normally relaxed but with good posture and moved gracefully. His arms and legs were lightly muscled and seemed long, as did his lightly calloused fingers, but that was in proportion to his not yet fully developed body. His nails were usually neatly trimmed. His hips were very slender, as was his waste. His feet were delicately boned but seemed large for his current size. He liked to walk in long, sweeping strides, graceful and effective at eating up distances with minimal effort. He was still young enough to enjoy running and jumping and sliding, the joys of a boy. But those pleasures were becoming passing and rare.
His long face was somewhat chiseled but with open, pleasant features, a broad forehead, pronounced cheek bones, a longish chin and generous, expressive lips, effective at both frowning and smiling. His eyebrows were dark and distinct, unlike those of many boys his age which appeared engaged on a trip to meet above the nose. His eye lashes were very dark, framing deep set, large, light hazel eyes, like green olives flecked with specks of gold. They turned dark when he became intense and could seem to blaze into your soul, capable of reading your mind and planting their own messages there.
He had light fuzz beginning to develop along his cheeks and upper lip. His hair was a dark brown, streaked slightly with lighter highlights, reflecting his long days in the sun. It normally hung to his shoulders when it was not tied back with a brown leather thong. His complexion was dark where it had been exposed but very white elsewhere. A very few freckles played over the bridge of his long but elegantly sculpted nose. His nostrils where moderate but fine and had a tendency to flare a bit when he was animated. His teeth were straight and very clean, and he smiled easily.
He almost always wore nondescript, home spun cotton tunics, almost white, that reached to just above his knees, with long broad sleeves. One could tell they were hand-me-downs as they almost always started out a little large. He would soon grow into them and then they would grow tight on him before they were replaced with a new generation of hand me downs. His mother told us they were given to him by his father’s sons from a prior marriage. Soon he would be fitting into his father’s own hand me downs. Over his tunic he wore a faded wool cloak that appeared to have once been scarlet, with blue and green stripes. His feet were shod in worn brown leather sandals. Although his clothing was older and well worn, like him, it was meticulously clean. On holy days, he was crowned by a simple yarmulke.
He exuded a calm and dignified energy which the Romans would have called dignitas, except that he was too young to have earned it yet. But it was overlain with a lively intelligence and sometimes annoying self confidence. It was clear that while he was eager to learn from others, his own opinion was most important to him. He possessed latent gifts of apparently inbred knowledge and was, to some, especially among his elders and relatives, too often annoyingly right.
It seemed uncanny that he could sometimes seem so full of energy and impatience that it seemed he might explode at any moment while at other times he could become so still and concentrated in meditation that he seemed a statue, oblivious to everyone and everything around him.
He was, as often as not, a living paradox. He was not shy but neither did he seek to actively develop casual friendships. Rather, people seemed drawn to him, and he was comfortable with that; kind to their overtures but not casually open. However, once a relationship developed, he quickly assumed a leadership role that was natural to him and accepted by those around him. He was naively regal in a very informal setting.
Although some of his elders resented him, more treated him as an equal and sometimes as a mentor, even then. That trait would grow exaggerated as he developed into an adult, so that eventually, most people either loved him or hated him. Few were ever to be ambivalent.
 © Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Ocala, Florida, 1998; all rights reserved