There was something especially cool about being friends with them. "I don't want you hanging around with someone that much older than you.""Mom." I'm sure I rolled my eyes. ""So, no normal 20 year old wants to hang out with someone who is 15. Stay away from him."This was the sort of thing that always led to my leaving the room in a teary huff, maintaining loudly that she Just Didn't Understand. One Saturday, the guys planned a picnic in a nearby forest park. We had gotten in the habit of him driving me home, and my suddenly wanting to make different arrangements seemed to inconvenience everyone.
We were still at an age where our parents insisted on treating us like children. Once again, she was treating me like a child, someone unable to make her own decisions. It didn't seem like such a big deal, as my best friend was doing nothing sneaking around to be with her boyfriend. Suddenly, I wasn't that scared, invisible girl anymore, watching from the sidelines. I remember it was a gorgeous fall day, crisp and cool, and the first time I'd had Brie cheese and red wine. Even worse, I couldn't say why I didn't want to go with him.
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? Hearing that he wanted more felt like wading into the deep end. had feelings for me, I felt strange every time I saw him.
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."It just felt strange," I told her. 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.
I could see my house now, coming up ahead."We need to discuss this," he said. That this was just how I felt."We'll go talk about it," he said. "We'll go somewhere."And that's when I said it."."My own voice — big, firm, filling the space — was a surprise to both of us. When I turned 21, I remember making a point, regularly, to look at teens and ask myself whether I'd want to hang out with them, much less date one. As a teen wishing to be an adult, it is easy to get in over your head. That if something feels wrong, that's all the reason you need to get out of there.