When I was your age, I remember the first time a boy kissed me. My best friend’s cousin and we were locked in the shed together, I don’t remember why maybe it was a game of 7 Minutes in Heaven. He put his tongue in my mouth, and it was weird. Slimy and it tasted like, well, like someone else’s tongue and after 13 years of having tasted only my own tongue I supposed it must be an acquired taste to get use to the taste of someone else’s tongue. Then I wasn’t sure if it meant that we were “going steady”, but it didn’t matter too much because he didn’t live in town and he left the next day. I don’t remember his name. He was shorter than me.
I remember the summer that I worked all summer in order to buy my own horse. My dad sold her to me for $400, which was the amount he had paid for her at the auction. Her name was Nancy, and eventually I would own her son, and my sister would call Nancy hers.
I remember my mom trying to set my up for the junior prom with a guy named James Bond. Really. And he was really really awkward and I ditched him to hang out with my friends as soon as I could. I didn’t consider how that would make him feel, or even how that would make me look to my friends. The next year, I went by myself to Senior Prom, wearing white Wranglers and a t-shirt that said “Talk is Cheap, And You Look Like You Have A Lot To Say.” I was voted Biggest Backtalker in class.
One time the physics teacher made me cry because I didn’t understand how to balance chemical equations.
I remember my dad knocking on the door of a house that I didn’t know that he knew how to find. It’s 1am. My dad doesn’t say anything, just gestures that I should come with him. We walk home, and he doesn’t say anything then either. My heart breaks to know how I have broken his heart. I don’t sneak out at night for the next week, but then it wears off and I take the screen off my window again and tell my friends to expect my taps on the window. We spend nights by the ditch out back, skinny-dipping and smoking cigarettes.
I remember falling in love with a boy who did not love me. He stole some things, and went to a juvenile facility. I visited him there, but he still didn’t love me. I had his best friend tattoo his name on my ankle with his homemade tattoo gun made from the innards of a car stereo, but it still didn’t make him love me. When my mom saw the tattoo, she had to change the dresses for all the wedding party in her upcoming wedding because she didn’t want anyone to see my ankle tattoo in her wedding.
I remember finding God, and speaking in tongues, and finding community. And then I remember losing God when my best friend told me he was gay and how could God not think my best friend was perfect in every way. And losing community then too. I still spoke in tongues for a long time though. To impress people. I still could, probably, but I haven’t for a long time. It feels funny now, to speak fluently a language that I don’t understand. Though I also feel that way about English.
I remember being with a friend at the grocery store and being loud and silly and someone called my dad to tell him that we were on drugs. We weren’t. Just silly teenagers. I wouldn’t start doing drugs until my very late teens, after high school.
I remember falling in love, finally, with someone who did love me back. My mom got tired of me waking her up when I tried to sneak back into my house early in the morning before school and suggested that I just take my toothbrush with me over to his house at night instead of coming home in the morning. I remember saying “I love you” to him for the first time and the endless breathless horrible eternity of time before he said it back.
It sounds like I never slept. Spent all my nights climbing out of windows. But I slept. For about a year of high school I would go to bed earlier and earlier every night because my dreams were so amazingly vivid and awesome that I couldn’t wait to see what that night would bring. I also slept through depression, trading crying for sleeping because I preferred dreaming. I wouldn’t really wake up until I was 19 and someone gave me psychedelic mushrooms for the first time. That same boy, the first one to love me back. He shook me awake, “you’re fucking up” he said. It took me a long time to wake up. Until I wasn’t a teenager any more.
That’s what I remember from when I was your age.