Definitely not us.

That age when your body comes into fruition is so delicate, and every adult knows it. Your elbows become pointy jabbers that get stuck in doorways and there’s never enough room in the back of the car for your spider legs. Everything is the most embarrassing thing, and nothing fits. The world might as well be against you, and suddenly one day you swoosh your hair back from your face while drinking from a water faucet and dudes completely lose their minds. Having no self-confidence, I’d joke with my friends, like “today this dude ran halfway across the field to pick up a baseball I threw. I think he felt sorry that I have such bad aim,” or “Dori’s older brother asked if I needed a ride back to my house when I was visiting the other day. He wasn’t even going anywhere. He just hopped up and grabbed his keys. He must of been wanting an excuse to get out of the house.” It took a couple of really strange incidents and a particularly eye-opening sleepover with my friends to realize that I was not alone and this was how my life would be from that point on, and these would be benefits (and sometimes bothersome moments) to becoming a lady.

On my street there was a long sidewalk that, when I was growing up, my best friend and I would walk down in the summer to go to an ice cream shop in town. I was around fourteen when I noticed cars would beep at us, or we’d hear people yell things out the window. At first I thought it was a coincidence, but then dudes started hanging out the windows and woop at me, which I soon understood was on purpose? It was very odd. Couldn’t they see I wasn’t cool or pretty? Don’t they know i’m just a gross girl with B.O. and hairy legs?

I was shocked when I heard someone at my school got caught giving someone a blow job in the locker room. This was four months after I found out what a blow job actually was (and could not believe someone would choose to be the giver in such an act. Like most women, it took me a while to realize–and experience–what reciprocal pleasure was). I hated how my place in the world was changing. I had power, all of a sudden, and I didn’t know how to wield it. I thought being a kid was a lot of fun, and the benefits of staying one outnumbered the perks of changing. It’s the one era in a lifetime that creates an obvious shift between two phases of life (childhood and adulthood) that humans never experience again in their life once it’s over, and if I could choose, I was having no part of it.

Every summer I went camping with my family. I was definitely approaching the age where it was uncomfortable to share a camper bed with your two (equally growing) teenage sisters. We’d camp five or so times a summer but as I got older I wanted to hang out with my friends rather than sitting around the campfire while my dad complained about cold coffee while shirtless.

One weekend our camping spot was in a big open field at a campground twenty minutes from home. A little ways down, there was a big family with numerous tents and Winnebagos crowded in one area. They were always playing games, laughing, singing songs around the campfire, and other stuff you wouldn’t do if you were at home. My favorite pastime that weekend was casually watching a guy in an orange hat my age at that campsite. I couldn’t see his face that well but decided he was hot anyway because my hormones made irrational decisions based off nothing.

All you could do to pass time was walk around in the circle that the campground made, or go swimming. There was also a one-room arcade building that had pinball games and a candy store, a place the owner created with bored teenagers in mind.

The pool closed at eight and one time my cousins, my older sister, and I snuck in and threw the plastic furniture into the pool. My sister was in the pool when we heard a mysterious voice over an intercom say “TAKE THE FURNITURE OUT OF THE POOL AND GET OUT.” My sister raised the chair in her hands out of the water while keeping as much of herself underwater.

During the day we mostly sat on the edge while dangling our feet under the water to keep cool. On one such occasion, a cute guy came up to us and started talking to me. He was beautiful. I couldn’t believe my luck and thought he surely must have just arrived and hadn’t gotten a good look at all the babes at camp. Astonishingly, he asked me to go for a walk that night.

As I waited for him at our meeting spot, I was surprised and excited to see the guy with the orange baseball hat from a couple sites down make an appearance. He was walking towards me. It was Chris, the guy from the pool. My hormones couldn’t take it. I seriously got a two-for-one deal. This was the beginning of my “I can’t believe this sort of thing happened to me” storyline in life.

The evening was splendid, I was walking on clouds the whole time he held my hand, and I couldn’t sleep that night because I kept replaying our conversations in my head (that, and my sister’s long toenails kept jabbing into my leg).

The next day my family left to go back home way too early in the morning for me to see Chris. As my dad connected the hose that emptied our poop from the trailer into the weird storage tank at the campground (why is that a thing?), I luckily spotted Chris swimming. I got out of the truck and casually ran to the pool where he eagerly got out to talk to me. I had written my phone number on a piece of paper and gave it to him. His dad was freakishly supportive of our union, giving his son an “attaboy” as I walked away. I still don’t understand.

A couple of crudely written Windows ’95-era love letters were written over the next couple of weeks. He called me one day and told me his dad had a doctors appointment in my town at the crack of dawn on a Saturday morning and wondered if I wanted to go on a date with him to the park across the street from the hospital. I never thought my first ever date would be paired with the words “colonoscopy” or “medicinal enema,” but what could I do? The guy’s got intestine problems. Lets hope it doesn’t run in the family.

The date was pretty low key, but I suppose it was my perfect entrance into teenager-dom. We chatted while swinging on the swing set, tossed around a frisbee in the field I once played t-ball in, and slid down the rusty, metal slide i’d been going on since I was three. Since it was eight o’clock in the morning, there wasn’t anyone around, which I liked, having no fear of being spotted doing something so embarrassing as showing my affection for someone else publicly.

After the days following the date, I decided to embrace the teenager in me and accept my fate as a (*shudder*) growing woman. Maybe I liked boys and going on dates now. I crossed the threshold, and without even thinking about it, I knew I couldn’t go back. And maybe I didn’t want to.

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