In Which I Contemplate Teenagehood

An Essay By Madeline // 9/6/2014

Read: Please see notes before reading!
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In Which I Contemplate Teenagehood

On Thursday morning, I sat beside Mom on a couch and felt an uneasiness take up in my stomach: the thinly veiled distaste, the undercurrent of deception, the absolute notion that something was just off took precedence in the room. Maybe they didn’t see it; I don’t know. Their pettiness made me angry.

We resign.

That afternoon, I had to turn away and speed toward my cherry-vanilla coke when we told them we were leaving.

“But I don’t want you to go,” one of the little girls protested, tears welling in her eyes. They were in mine, too. I widened them, facing the trashcan, and blinked. I think maybe a few of the kids saw.

I managed to push past it in that moment, although it came back to tease me in other parts of the day. Like when I bent down to fix that same girl’s shoe–lavender converse, always coming untied—and she stared down at me and said, “I love you.” I gave her a hug. I wanted to repeat that to my Mom right after, but couldn’t for the threat of tears.

Later that evening, we sat in a restaurant and the waitress talked to us throughout our whole dinner. I didn’t mind. Part of me wishes we could have invited her to sit down.

It’s different, this sort of moving on. In my life, there have been chapters closed before, but never so abruptly. Getting past an end has always been a gradual, warring slope for me. I seem to have a hard time letting go. This was different—like slamming a book shut only partway through the story. In a way, it’s made the severance easier.

It was sad for an afternoon, but I’m over it now. I’m ready to find something else, although it’s scary. The idea—not having, but needing to do something entirely on my own is frightening, and some people would probably be surprised to hear me say that.

But you seem so confident, they would say. That’s what my friends more or less told me last week, as we were exiting Goodwill after trying on a variety of hideous dresses for fun. You walk funny.

What do you mean?

You walk differently from the rest of us.

Everybody walks different.

It's not bad. It's a confident walk.

Oh [laugher].

Yeah. But it’s good.

Funny, because I don’t see it. Not all the time. I feel vividly self-aware. If I’m brushing my hair back too often, I know it; if my shirt is slipping down one shoulder; if I’m making a face—although occasionally those slip past my radar (actually, okay, a lot on that front. I can’t help it. I’m just very expressive).

Yes, I probably seem confident. And I am. Yet I’m still the girl who hates going to the bathroom alone at a restaurant, who hates walking first into any sort of place, who feels self conscious (or used to—this has ebbed some) eating at other peoples' houses, who won’t try on a jacket in the middle of a department store, even though it doesn’t necessitate taking any layers off.

That’s just me. Quite simply.

I turned seventeen last Monday. It doesn’t feel any differently than sixteen, to be honest. There’s a gap there—a bridge—between this and fifteen, though. It’s palpable, though I can’t really pinpoint it. I think I’m probably just different. It did seem strange when I woke up the other day and thought wait–I’m seventeen. That was a bit ethereal.

I love that I’m getting to the age where I have so many opportunities before me, but it’s strange, too. It doesn’t seem that long ago that I was sitting on the pink rug in my room, playing with my Playmobile “Modern House” while Little Women hummed its cheerful song on my tiny TV. I miss those weekends where it was wake-eat-play-watch cartoons-get-dressed-play-eat lunch-play-read-do homework-watch cartoons-eat dinner-play-watch a movie-go to bed.

I think a part of me would still do that if I could. I’m just suddenly older and I want to go back and ask myself when did this happen? But I can’t. Because it is, as with moving on, a gradual process. No specific moment can be pinpointed in time, gestured to grandly and pronounced, “That’s when she stopped being a kid!” Because no, I still haven’t. I love SpongeBob and drawing and reading and lying around doing nothing.

A lot of those things I used to love doing have made the transition to nearly-adult. I cook now with real food, instead of toys. I write stories instead of acting them out. I don’t play teacher—I tutor. And okay, I’ll admit sometimes I still wish I could play teacher, play pretend, and play with toy food. Or actually, scratch that. Playing with toy food was never fun past the age of five. I’m sorry, but real cooking is so much more satisfying. Especially since you can eat your efforts.

I love that now I can work a job, if I so choose. I like that I can make lunch plans with my friend and have the money to pay for it myself. I like the idea of—I’ve always been the type to lie around thinking about everything I want to do but can’t because I’m too young, and suddenly I’m just about not. It’s different, it’s exciting, it’s weird.

Like I told my friend yesterday (over text, which kind of brings this sentiment back down to earth a bit)—remember: no pressure. You have places to go and things to do and people to meet and adventures to have.

Yes, I just quoted myself, but isn’t that true? Don’t you believe it for yourself? I believe it for me.

I believe it for me.

Comments

Wow!!! It's absolutely crazy

Wow!!! It's absolutely crazy to think you're now seventeen!
This is great, the thoughts are well out together, wording awesome, message clear and concise but eloquent and enjoyable to read!
You do walk confidently ;) and I think despite all the minor things you listed you are a very confident person... No matter what, you go for what you want. Your goals are accomplished in a wink of an eye, as impossible as they seem to be (play, writing for a newspaper, gluten free bake stand, volunteer work on top of work and tutoring). Point is, I think you are awesome, and that you can accomplish anything you put your mind to!
Haha! It's usually our own advice that is best for us but sometimes neglected :P
Great essay on growing up!!! Loved it!!
Write on ;)

Kassady | Sun, 09/07/2014

"Here's looking at you, Kid"
---
Write On!

This is great! I love these

This is great! I love these narrative-type of essays. I definitely understand where you are right now--I was in the same place close to this time last year when I had just turned 17. Love this! :)

Erin | Sun, 09/07/2014

"You were not meant to fit into a shallow box built by someone else." -J. Raymond

:)

Happy wonderful seventeenth birthday for whenever it was :)
I really really liked this. Love the first bit, sad yet so good, I don't know how to describe it.
Believe me, a confident walk says a lot. Keep it forever.
(Me too, I get told how very expressive my face can be...)
Quoting your self, Haha!! Love it. Well both actually, the quote and you quoting yourself. Last sentence ties it in really well. Thanks for sharing :)

Maddi | Tue, 09/09/2014

Goodbye? Oh no, please. Can’t we just go back to page one and start all over again?” – Winnie The Pooh

I really enjoyed this!

This is very, very well written. :) I loved how it flowed and your writing style and certain things you said.

"No specific moment can be pinpointed in time, gestured to grandly and pronounced, “That’s when she stopped being a kid!” Because no, I still haven’t. I love SpongeBob and drawing and reading and lying around doing nothing." - True statement.

"There’s a gap there—a bridge—between this and fifteen, though. It’s palpable, though I can’t really pinpoint it. I think I’m probably just different. It did seem strange when I woke up the other day and thought wait–I’m seventeen. That was a bit ethereal." - I've felt that before and couldn't really describe it like you did.

"I seem to have a hard time letting go. This was different—like slamming a book shut only partway through the story. " -Great imagery especially with "partway".

Your thoughts just flowed so smoothly into one theme! I didn't feel like you were rambling, even though this is a type of muse-ful piece. Good essay on growing up! :) Is it really already a year to when we all wrote essays on growing up?? Woah. So much has changed from then.

...Oh! AND HAPPY 17TH BIRTHDAY!!

Lucy Anne | Tue, 09/09/2014

"It is not the length of life, but the depth of life." Ralph Waldo Emerson

I am smiling so much!

Thank you for all of your lovely comments. :D As you can see from my subject, I'm pretty happy to get them!

Kass--Thank you for your super kind and very sweet words. You've definitely been there through it all--don't forget, you are the one that co-wrote the play and kept my somewhat harsh delivery of commands in check. ;) Thanks for being my best and always-supportive friend! I'm glad we have each other!

Erin--Thank you for reading!! :) I'm looking forward to talking to you soon. Almost-eighteen must feel pretty cool.

Maddi--Thank you! And fairly recently, actually--near the end of August. :) Happy early sixteenth to you! It's definitely surreal to be as 'old' as we are. Thanks for your feedback! And haha, I'll try. ;D

Lucy Anne--Aw! Thank you so much! I was SO happy to get a comment from you; I feel like it's been forever. And that's not a guilt-trip either, I promise. It was lovely to read and made me smile so wide. I really appreciate you explaining what you liked about the essay. That helps me a lot, too, to know what I did right and wrong. :D I can't wait to read something from you soon! And thanks for the birthday wishes as well! According to your age thing, you're fifteen, but yours must be coming up soon as well?

Madeline | Thu, 09/11/2014

everything was better when/you would call and I'd be like/yeah babe, no way

I am smiling so much!

Thank you for all of your lovely comments. :D As you can see from my subject, I'm pretty happy to get them!

Kass--Thank you for your super kind and very sweet words. You've definitely been there through it all--don't forget, you are the one that co-wrote the play and kept my somewhat harsh delivery of commands in check. ;) Thanks for being my best and always-supportive friend! I'm glad we have each other!

Erin--Thank you for reading!! :) I'm looking forward to talking to you soon. Almost-eighteen must feel pretty cool.

Maddi--Thank you! And fairly recently, actually--near the end of August. :) Happy early sixteenth to you! It's definitely surreal to be as 'old' as we are. Thanks for your feedback! And haha, I'll try. ;D

Lucy Anne--Aw! Thank you so much! I was SO happy to get a comment from you; I feel like it's been forever. And that's not a guilt-trip either, I promise. It was lovely to read and made me smile so wide. I really appreciate you explaining what you liked about the essay. That helps me a lot, too, to know what I did right and wrong. :D I can't wait to read something from you soon! And thanks for the birthday wishes as well! According to your age thing, you're fifteen, but yours must be coming up soon as well?

Madeline | Thu, 09/11/2014

everything was better when/you would call and I'd be like/yeah babe, no way

Well, yes, it has been

Well, yes, it has been forever...and I wish I could say that I am going to post something on here soon, but I haven't written anything that could go on here, and most of my projects will be term papers that take weeks and weeks to do - and too long and dull for apricotpie. I dream about writing a sequel for Though None Go With Me - if you remember that long short story I wrote about the girl making a choice on whether or not to become an Anabaptist....and maybe it'll happen. To answer your question, yes, mine is coming up...believe it or not, somewhere in the beginning of the new year. I can't believe a year can go by so fast. And I can't believe I'll be sixteen - that age that always has the word "sweet" accompanied with it.

Lucy Anne | Thu, 09/11/2014

"It is not the length of life, but the depth of life." Ralph Waldo Emerson

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