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I was the oracle, remembering each detail from my supporting role. I was causing trouble, making things difficult for everyone."What happened to you back there? Just like that, you lose your footing, and you're in over your head. He noticed my sudden distance and pouted, unsettling to see in an adult.
There was safety in the shadows, but also a kind of darkness. " my friend whispered as we walked back to the car with the guys a few steps ahead. "Like we were supposed to be boyfriend and girlfriend, or something.""Well," she said slowly. I'd completely accepted her romance with an older guy as normal, even destined. When he wasn't upset, he was in kindness overdrive, buying me things: a gold necklace with a floating heart, stuffed animals.
In tenth grade, we made friends with a group of older guys who hung out on the main street of town, which ran parallel to the local university — guys who'd once gone to our same high school and had never left the social scene. I remember how quiet it was, birds soaring overhead, no other sound. I grew to dread the moments we were alone, especially when I needed a ride home at the end of the night to make my curfew. In the initial years following, I never really talked about this with anyone other than my high school girlfriends and various therapists.
Your father needs to realize that you are a person who has strong values and that you stick to your beliefs.
As a father who raised a daughter and a son and as a therapist who has counseled many teenagers, I would ask your father to focus on the trust and respect that you have earned as opposed to focusing on teenage boys as kids who "all want the same thing." Yes, teenage boys can have romantic and sexual feelings, and so can teenage girls, but not every teenager acts upon those feelings or curiosities.
Your dad needs to show you the respect that you have shown yourself in staying true to your values.
How wonderful it felt to have an "adult" who valued our opinion; thought we were not just cute but interesting. I was wearing a Bundeswehr tank top I'd gotten at an Army supply store and faded jeans, a thrift shop crucifix around my neck. But as we sat there together in the sunshine, the wine buzzing my head, I suddenly felt … With real life, however, and memory especially, it is harder to keep things so neat and organized. In the first, I snuck out of the house with a guy friend who lived down the street. My friend came back, we went home and I slid back into my bed. The second incident I remember happened when he was giving me a ride home. I'd been quiet for so long, worried about hurting his feelings and the ripple effects of whatever actions I took. You don't need to offer an explanation, even if someone asks you for one. You can't just hang out with a guy and not expect him to get ideas, I told myself. Especially for girls, who are often taught that being polite and sweet should override all other instincts. That if something feels wrong, that's all the reason you need to get out of there.
My best friend was 14 when she fell in love with a 21 year old. My friend's older boyfriend was close with a guy I'll call T. My mother, spying him from the front window, asked me how old he was."I don't know," I said. After awhile, my friend and her boyfriend disappeared, leaving T. Many memories remain fuzzy, but incidents such as that day in the forest remain in crisp detail. It was late and my parents were asleep as we drove over to the house where T. At some point, my friend left to go somewhere, and for whatever reason I didn't go with him. Maybe he only stepped out to go to the store down the block. This was after the night at his house, though how much later I cannot say. "That's your mom talking."I told him that this wasn't true: it was my choice. He stopped the car with a jerk, right past the top of my driveway, and I grabbed the door handle and got out. For many years afterward, I took total blame for everything that happened between me and T. It was with this in mind that I began my narrator Sydney's story in I'm 44 now, married with a daughter of my own. The teen years loom ahead and I've experienced too much to rest easily. Don't worry about being nice, or hurting someone's feelings: they'll get over it. You don't have to wait, I want to tell her, until you have no choice.