Adolescence Anonymous

December 7, 2008
The smell of alcohol has always been a subconscious warning in my mind. The sharp musty scent that wafts through my nostrils scrapes its rough edges along the walls of my nasal canal where it lingers long after I start to breath through my mouth. Its aroma is petrifying.
You see, practically, every branch on my family tree is soaked in alcohol. My father, my aunt, my cousin, my uncle, and probably other relatives who were less blatant about their addiction, were all drawn, like moths to a flame, to the temptation of inebriation. They surrendered themselves to the lure of elegant, stemmed wine goblets, the magnetism of squat, rotund shot glasses, the appeal of sophisticated, olive adorned martini chalices, and the inducement of russet colored, oblong beer bottles.
Even on occasion I’ve suspected my mother of alcoholism, and, though she assures me otherwise every time the topic is brought up, I still cannot shake the constant skepticism that drifts in the shadows of my psyche. Perhaps she was an alcoholic in a different life, before--or plausibly during-- my conception, I can’t be sure of this separate life’s existence, seeing as it was, in her mind, barred from reason in the immediacy of her pregnancy, it never seemed to resurface.
My father took a different approach; my birth didn’t seem a sufficient enough reason for the loss of booze. He reassured himself that the endless stories of drunken fathers shattering their families to pieces were simply correlation without causation, surly if one was careful enough one could be both drunk and fatherly without anything going horribly awry.
Alcoholics perforate my life; like bullets on a résumé, black dots of drunken havoc form a sordid line through my past. Some stories I don’t fully remember but my mother seems to be emotionally capable of filling in the blanks of my half memories. The stories that she divulges to me -- always with a noticeable tone of spite weaving through her habitually dulcet voice-- manage to form their own sort of memory, one that, with significant effort, can be pushed aside, shoved deeper into my subconscious, or swept under my mind’s proverbial carpet with my mind’s proverbial broom.
I manage to subdue my inner most fears of inheritance by letting Zen sayings replay themselves in my head; I remind myself that the past no longer exists and the future has yet to transpire, and that therefore neither should have the power to influence my present.

Even as I tell myself this I still know that I am entering a stage of my life where I will be everlastingly watched. My peers will loom over me, judging my every move, telling me what to wear and who to like, insisting that I try this or drink that, forcing their opinions on me and then contradicting themselves by saying it’s my choice. My relatives will bear down on me, watching to make sure that I don’t repeat their mistakes. That I don’t date the wrong boy or smoke the wrong substance, that I don’t shirk my responsibilities or cheat on my Algebra tests. Everything is judged, and no matter what I do, no matter how I do it, there is always someone standing behind me telling me that I did it wrong, or that their way is better. My mother once said to me, “We’re all watching you. Just to make sure...” And from which I heard, “We’re all waiting for you to screw up.”
And yet, somehow I have always known that it’s normal for teenagers to take risks; that in order to find ourselves it is important to first lose ourselves. We teeter, disorientated and alone, to the shore and throwing out to sea our inhibitions, aspirations, and ambitions, we let them float out into the open ocean while we watch in trepidation for what the tide brings back to us. Whatever sticks to the shore through the tidal waves and tsunamis of adolescence are what carry us through the rest of our adult lives. We use these few things that, clinging frenziedly to the sand, hold true to who we genuinely are; out of them we construct a raft, one that we eventually use to float over the choppy waters of early adulthood, through the hurricane of middle age, and into the rip-tide of decrepit deterioration that befalls all of us in our eventual descent towards the grave.
Some people sacrifice their hopes and dreams only to get nothing back which results in them wandering aimlessly through life never maturing enough to move on from the frothy shores of young adulthood; physically growing older with each year but emotionally remaining perpetually adolescent.
Others horde their talent, never willing to risk any of it and in doing so also remain unchanged throughout their existence. They cling to what they have and eventually come off as paranoid and pretentious. In the end they will find themselves sifting through memories and realizing that they are, and always have been, utterly alone.
But because the years between childhood and adulthood are chiefly governed by emotions, rather than reason or logic, most spend their adolescence testing out the waters of overtly dramatic romances, drug induced lethargy, sexually explicit errors in judgment, and angst ridden fits rebellion that almost always end in tears. To me they seem infantile and foolish as they clutch their digital cameras; capturing pictures of a part of life that they will later look back on with embarrassment and mortification.
They shout things like, “But Daddy, I love him!” and “I don’t need to go to college, the band is about to make it big!” But in the end it is a rare pubescent specimen indeed who follows through on these whims. The rest of them balance their hormones long enough to make it through to the end of puberty after which they quickly switch to balancing their checkbooks.
My perception of life is challenged daily by my peers who fervently defend the shallow existence that they live. For some reason the most of them are content to be enthused by so-and-so “like liking” what’s-his-face and what party that guy got totally trashed at.
Everything bad can be lumped into two categories: getting dumped and getting caught. The end of a two week relationship results in girls nose-diving into pints of ice cream, letting tears flow freely down they’re acne encrusted cheeks. To them getting grounded is as life altering as losing a hand would be to a painter.
They tell me that they’ve fallen in love, and then they get irate with me when I say, “No you haven’t.” They fume when I tell them that at this point in their life they aren’t emotionally mature enough to grasp the concept of love let alone fall into it.

I, myself, attempt an outlook on life that mirrors maturity. I try to base all of my decisions in logic and reason, preferring books to boys and sleeping to shopping. I mainly stay home on weekends, explaining to my friends that I need the time to “decompress” which is easier than saying, “I find your hobbies immature and insignificant.” But somewhere along the way, somewhere in between not partying and declining drags off of sequestered cigarettes, I realized that I might be letting a pertinent portion of life slip away. I am giving up a period of my existence where people expect me to disappoint them. Where when I do mess up they’ll shake their heads and say, “She’s young, it’s a phase.” As if that excuses anything.

There is a part of me that aches to rebel, to act out, to let my hormones take charge and allow my more rational self fall into the depths of reckless adolescence. But another part wishes to rebel against those who expect me to rebel. To be rebellious in that I’m not; to leave them in a perpetual state of waiting for the other shoe to drop; always tensed for my big huge pubescent mistake, one that I never execute.
While the first option seems dizzyingly irresponsible the second has the metallic taste of cruelty buried in its innocence.
I find myself faced with two options. Like a jumper on a hotel roof I stand unwittingly between reason and risk. Undecided and bewildered, I wait completely uncertain of my own desires; my hand poised over the keyboard of indecision, one finger resting on the escape button another lightly perched on the control key, not sure of which I want more.

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KarateGirl said...
Jan. 6, 2009 at 3:46 am
I think this is AWESOME. I really like it. You are very...verbose =D keep writing!
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