This is the age my son is going to turn next week. It is also the age that was the apex of my adolescent misery. I had no real friends, but moved in a large wolf pack. I laughed very loudly at jokes. If someone important at school suggested we do something illegal, stupid, or cruel, I immediately agreed. I did no homework and lived on the edge of being found out by teachers who did not like me. Each morning I woke up early, dreading school. A deep minute counting dread. I could hardly eat. I read books set in far away Regency England, wishing I lived then before schools like mine had been invented. I never let on, though. It was crucial to appear ok. So, I swaggered through the hallways. I made and received phone calls from the right people. I made weekend appearances at the correct parties.
There was not much respite at home, except for books. My father was never there. My mom was depressed. I spent lots and lots of time alone. I begged to go out and do things I did not really want to do. I went to a Foghat concert (I am embarrassed to say) and REO Speedwagon (just to be with the right people). I wanted to look like the actress on The Mod Squad, the one with the long straight blonde hair, or the girl who starred in the movie Go Ask Alice, the story of a teenager who died of a drug overdose. I spent hours with a blow dryer trying to straighten my curls. I thought it might be cool to die of a drug overdose. I hate even writing that sentence. I tell myself over and over again that my son’s life is nothing like mine. We live hundreds and hundreds of miles from where I grew up. It is 2010, not 1975. Still, I worry.