Thursday, 21 March 2013

Haunted at 17

What haunted me at 17? It was only four years ago but honestly, truly, it seems like lifetimes.

17 & in the sun

Well, it was the first year of sixth form (like junior and senior year of high school, for those of you who don't know). Two years away from being done with school, the first year of being The Old Kids. The ones who didn't have to be at school, but chose to be, because we were serious students (ha!). The ones who could come in late or leave early, and had free periods in which to do our serious work (or paint our nails and talk about boys and drink diet Dr. Pepper).

I was coming off probably the best summer of my life: the glorious ten weeks you get after the hellish exam years, which I spent laying on the deck outside, tanning and listening to electro in the sun. I went to Paris with my mother, where we hung around outside (never inside!) Chanel and Marni and Bottega Veneta, and ate Laduree macarons (which are so not worth the hype, FYI). I drank rosé on ice with my best friend, classy girls that we were. We and all our other friends had late nights walking around town, lying in the middle of the deserted streets, being stupid. And that summer was when I first thought I'd try out this whole writing-a-novel-thing! (If only I could have seen where that idea would lead...)

But I was also still coming off the two years before that. They were bad, bad years--my worst depression times. Times of staying in bed because I could not, and did not see a reason to, gather the energy to get up. Times of telling my mother I hated her, and spending my Friday nights playing video games by myself while my former friends were hanging out together. Times spent giving up on the things I loved because...who cared anymore?

But 17--it was good. I had friends, and I had people who waved at me in the hallways, who took blurry pictures with me at parties. I was still writing, albeit slowly.

So what haunted me through 17, that year of parties and older boys and getting far too drunk in the warm safety of my friends' homes?

17 & hanging out on a cold winter night.
What haunted me was the idea that it would all go back to before.

That these friends I had now (some old, some new) would leave me the way those other girls I had called friends did just a couple of years before. It might again happen that I would be sat down and told that they'd prefer it was just the four (five, six, seven, whatever--as long as I wasn't included) of them.

That the Friday nights we spent trying (failing) to get served at the Chinese restaurant and subsequently walking home stone-cold sober in the bitter cold (still happy because, well, the whole situation was funny in the most stupid way) would turn back into being just me: alone, headphones plugged in, in a room lit only by the television screen.

That the people I'd been going to school with for five years but was only just starting to get to know would realise that actually, I wasn't at all interesting. They'd realise my skinny jeans and leather jacket were way too try-hard, my attempts at flirting were just embarrassing, my jokes were not amusing in the slightest.

That all the good and fun and life I had now would just...poof. Disappear.

But you know the funny thing?

17 & smiling.

None of those hauntings ever became reality for me.

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Nova Ren Suma's 17 & GONE is out today! Go get it, because her writing is beautiful and I'm super excited about this book. 



Also, go here to see more (and way better) posts about being haunted at 17.

12 comments:

  1. ah! Rebecca this is beautiful, and so are you! I love all the images this conjured up of your life and your hauntings. One day we'll have to go out for a pint...of rose. :)

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    1. Thank you so much Sarah! Fortunately I have moved on from rosé to much more sophisticated things...so we'll have to go out for a pint of mango-pineapple-passionfruit-vodka-fizz (with a prety umbrella). Yeah, that's how I roll.

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  2. This line: "I had friends, and I had people who waved at me in the hallways, who took blurry pictures with me at parties." I love it! It says so much. Thanks for this brave and honest post.

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    1. Oh, thank you. It says a lot to me, too :)

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  3. I'm glad things worked out for you. I know it can be hard to trust people when you've been let down. And sixth form is definitely the time to enjoy being stupid (in a good way!)

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    1. Isn't it just? Oh, the times I spent hungover in the common room, doing my essays last minute...and still managed to get through all the work! I'm glad things worked out too (well, as much as they have so far!)

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  4. What a beautiful, honest post. Thanks for sharing your story with us. :)

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    1. Thanks, Jaime. Glad you liked it :)

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  5. The joys of being a teenager who suffers from depression....I did too, and it's horrible. I am glad that you found some sun eventually!

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    1. Oh, isn't it just? I too am glad that I found some sun eventually...it's gone away a little right now, but I have faith that it'll be back someday (and hopefully soon!)

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  6. Rebecca, What a moving, gorgeous story. Thank you so much for sharing this and helping me celebrate the book release. I am honored—it really means so much to me!

    And as promised, if you'd like some 17 & GONE swag in thanks, I'd love to send it your way. Just email me your mailing address (nova[at]novaren[dot]com), and it's yours :)

    xo
    Nova

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    1. It was my absolute pleasure, Nova! Can't wait to start reading :)

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