A Teenage Fairy Tale
I went to a sleepover at my friend Sarah’s. That’s what I told my mom. Sarah actually took me to a concert on the not-so-friendly side of downtown with graffiti faces on the walls, girls wearing Doc Martins, and boys with a lot of makeup on. Loud lights and bright base flooded my body and it was obvious to everyone that this was foreign to me. I was 17 and still hadn’t lived like I was afraid to get in trouble. Who’s gonna catch me? I thought.
There was a girl wearing a black bralette and a mini skirt. I wanted to be like her: wild like a monsoon, soft like a weeping willow. She said I was pretty, and it always feels better to be called pretty by a girl who you think is cooler than you. She grabbed my hands and told me to dance, let the music become a pulse underneath my skin, let myself become weightless. I remember meeting a group of goth girls and that I wished I looked as good as them, Black eyeliner in abstract shapes and bangs that were different colors. We took pictures with each other, Instagram stories and Polaroids. We talked and danced and laughed with each other the whole night. They gave me and Sarah pony bead friendship bracelets. Mine had letter beads spelling out “she/her”, but Sarah’s said “fucking bitch”. I remember wanting hers instead.
The concert ended around 11:30, and we had to dip like Cinderella leaving the ball at midnight, but this was no fairy tale, we couldn’t just stop there. Before piling in Sarah’s car, the black bralette girl bummed a cigarette off of a stranger in the alley of the concert venue. I know this is wrong… but she looks so cool. I thought. We drove with the windows down, music blaring, smoke from her lips skipping through the car, and strands of hair blowing against our faces. Sarah drove us to Walmart for some munchies, the black bralette girl sitting inside the shopping cart and me pushing it through the aisles as if I were riding a scooter. We bought chips and popcorn and soda and cranberry juice and chocolate covered strawberries. Sarah stole a can of Ravioli because it’s something she does every time she goes to Walmart.
I slept over at Sarah’s house. This being the only real detail my mother knows. I don’t remember what happened to the other girls, but I remember Sarah at 2 AM. She asked if I wanted vodka and the question was like asking Rapunzel if she wanted to leave her tower for the first time, like asking an adrenaline junkie if they wanted more. We sat outside her bedroom window, passing the bottle she stole from her parents back and forth. It tasted awful, but I remember Sarah saying, if you chug it, you can barely taste it.
It’s moments like this that become blurry too easily, like a TV program being shaded with fuzzy static. Thoughts are unstoppable when you’re under the influence and I thought about how I was breaking the rules, definitely pissing off my parents if they knew. I was living the peak of my teenage years, going out in secret, making friends with strangers, having intoxicated conversations with Sarah.
This is what it feels like to not exist, I thought. No one knew where I went that night. I had no limits. No one from that concert will remember who I was or that I was there in the first place. No one knew that Sarah and I sat outside her bedroom window, laying in the grass getting very drunk, my head resting in her lap and looking at the stars above us.
When I remember hard enough, I can still feel the thick, humid air from all the bodies surrounding me that night, the twangy, concert music running wild through my veins. The smell of the black bralette girl’s cigarette smoke, the burning taste of straight vodka. I still think about it, bask in the feeling of what being untamed truly felt like. And now I write about it… because who’s gonna catch me?