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February 13, 2013
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You are fifteen years old. You are dressed to the nines in a place you never really wanted to be. You’re at your stepbrother’s wedding. It’s full of people who aren’t your family, but you are expected to be mature and polite enough to act like they are. You are the youngest person in the room by a margin of at least ten years. You’ve shaken hands with people whose names you know you were supposed to remember, but that you’ve forgotten anyways. The room is beautiful, ablaze with dandelion light from crystal chandeliers and votive candles on every table. The darkness of the New York night is just on the other side of those big picture windows, and you can’t help but imagine taking off your heels and running out into it. You trail your mother like a child, and make small-talk like an adult. You’re a teenager, and you expect the adults to look down on you. You expect them to sneer and wonder why you’re not out drinking or smoking or burning down a city somewhere. But they do nothing of the sort. Instead they smile at you and ask you about school, and they tell you how elegant you look in your purple dress. You smile back, but inside you’re squirming. You hate small talk, and you’d give anything to have a quiet room to yourself and a book to read for the remainder of the night. You’re not young enough to be cute anymore. You’ve got the breasts and hips and a** of a woman, but right now you have the nerves of a shy child in a new classroom. You sit down at your table and refuse to dance. You watch and you roll your eyes and you text your best friends an SOS message. Then you get that familiar twang in your stomach that tells you you’re being petulant. You’re acting like a stubborn, sulking teenager.

But isn’t that exactly what you are?

You realize then that you’re the only person in the room sitting down, and your cheeks flush. How stupid you must look right now. You’re a fantastically awkward girl at this fantastically wonderful celebration, and you feel as if you are a living contradiction. You’re not a baby, so you must be mature and smile and dance and be gracious. But you are not one of the adults, either. You cannot drink and you cannot drive, and you don’t know how to balance a checkbook. You’re not supposed to understand everything they say and do, but you must act like it anyway, because you’re walking on a damn thin tightrope. You are fifteen years old, and none of your friends are responding to your messages, so you sigh and put your phone away. You finally accept an invitation to dance, and you find that you’re actually rather good at it. But then the feeling of foolishness hits you all over again and you escape back to the table. You beg your parents to drive you back to the hotel early, and they oblige. You bestow many goodbye kisses upon many powdered cheeks. As you walk out the door and the cool air hits you, you feel as though you’ve triumphed and failed at exactly the same time. You got what you wanted, but you should have been more patient. You should have been more flexible. This isn’t all about you, after all.

Back at the hotel, you fall on the lumpy couch bed. Your parents turn right around and head back to the party. You are fifteen years old, and you feel as though you want to cry. But you quickly shake the thought away, because crying would only increase the already Manhattan-wide distance between you and them.

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This article has 5 comments. Post your own now!

Dreamer_ said...
Mar. 11, 2013 at 1:27 pm
You're an amazing writer!
liveloud77 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Feb. 18, 2013 at 4:35 pm
This was awesome! I can definitely relate. You described the feelings and emotions and thoughts so well. :)
MaybeImCrazyButIThinkILovedYou This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Feb. 17, 2013 at 7:25 pm
This describes the emotions of a teenager at an adult social event perfectly! I feel like I can relate with this down to every last detail! It was great.
HayleyAlexandra said...
Feb. 17, 2013 at 8:07 am
This is wonderful! You're such an excellent writer. I felt as though I was right in the story.
KristySparklez said...
Feb. 17, 2013 at 2:14 am
this was really amazing and beautiful! Keep writing
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