Songs

This is how I feel about a lot of people right now.

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This is how I’m afraid I’ll feel one day. I don’t yet, but someday I may.

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I like helping people, especially people I care about. It makes me feel better, for a variety of reasons: My friends’ happiness makes me happy; it reassures me that I’m a good person; I no longer feel like I’m trapped in my castle, unable to feel the rest of the world, unable to understand or sympathize or make a difference. Every time I’m able to make someone smile when they’re sad, it erases a little of the frustrated rage at never being able to protect anyone. Every time I help someone keep going, even if I only make the tiniest difference, the world becomes brighter. The future becomes brighter. My hope for my friends becomes brighter.

It wears me down. Of course it does; how could it not? Life wears you down, one way or another. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. My life is filled with joy and ease and peace. I’m lucky. I have options for my future and love in my present. I have so much. I’ve had my issues, like everyone else, but I was lucky to have them all be inside my head. The world wasn’t actually attacking me; I just had to learn to deal with the harsh, dangerous, crazy thing we call living. I do recognize that my life is blessed – well near perfect – and I do know that I don’t have anything ‘real’ to complain about. I’m not trying to belittle myself, don’t worry. I’m just.. apologizing, sort of, for all the fuss I’ve made over little things. They felt big to me.

I’m grateful for all I have. Truly I am. And all my life, my parents have taught me that when you have something in any abundance, you have to give it to others. Good fortune isn’t meant to be jealously hoarded, but shared with as many people as you can reach. Finally I’m old enough to try, and I’m trying as hard as I can.

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This song used to make me cry.

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My mom doesn’t get it. Or maybe she does, but she can’t stand seeing me in pain any more than I can stand seeing it in my friends, and it makes it hard for her to see why I need to do what I’m trying to do. She doesn’t want me to give of myself so much that I don’t have enough left of me to live my own life. I agree with her, but I don’t want to stop giving of myself. I have to find the balance, yes, the lines I need to draw between my life and other people’s so that my life won’t drown; but I don’t want to draw lines that are too thick just because I don’t know yet what I’m doing. I’d rather draw lines that are too thin.

Pain is a lesson, if you let yourself learn it. It’s like falling down. When you’re little, you run around at top speed, tiny legs hurtling you forward as fast as you can go, until you fall down and skin your knee. Then you wail at the top of your lungs as if your whole world had ended, because you’re not used to the pain. Fast forward a few years: now when you fall and skin your knee, you get up and keep running. You’ve learned to cope with the pain.

Parents want to protect their children from every pain in the world. They all have different ideas on how to do that, but most of them are forced to recognize that sometimes you have to let your children fall down and get hurt. A lot of knowledge and wisdom can be passed on from parent to child, but some lessons need to be learned from falling down.

I’ve stopped telling my mom about my friends’ problems unless they’re so big that I need to get them out immediately. I’ve stopped telling my sister. I never told my dad much, but now I say even less. It’s an automatic response, I guess: if sharing what’s going through my head makes them and me more unhappy than happy, then stop.  It feels like a very teenage thing to do, though I don’t know if it is. It leaves me with fewer people than ever to talk to.

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Sometimes it feels like this song takes what I’m feeling and wraps it up, like thread wrapped round a bobbin, so it’s no longer messy and confusing and impossible to deal with.

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I don’t want to be rescued. I don’t want to be saved. I’m not in any danger, and I’m not trapped. I’m not suffering any more than I choose to. I just want someone – someone who knows, who understands – to give me a hug. To hold me while I shake with held-back sobs, just for a little bit. Not give any advice, not tell me what I need to do or how far I can go or that I have to stop. Just hold me. I just want someone I can go to who believes I can do this, that I’m strong enough and smart enough to do this right, and who will give me a hug. That’s all I need right now. A hug.

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Sometimes this song calms me.

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Saudade

I miss you.

It’s just something I say. Lately it’s been true every time, but I’m used to missing people. I’m used to being far away from the ones I love. Nearly all of my family lives in Brazil, and I only see them once a year, if that.

I’m also used to getting what I want. I don’t often want unreasonable things. I used to – I used to want to go on adventures and fight dragons and ride a horse and never do my homework. But I’ve learned, and I don’t often truly, desperately want impossible things anymore. I want cookies, I want good teachers, I want to learn languages, I want to read good books. I want things I can fetch for myself, or things that I can reasonably expect to get.

But I want my friends back. I want to see them, to hear them, to feel them sitting next to me. I want to hold them tight and feel their arms around me. I want to laugh with them. I want to know they’re there. I want to spend all night talking with them. I want them back.

My brain is nice to me. It blocks out painful memories, or at least it blocks out memories of pain. I don’t remember crying much when I moved to Denmark, although my mother tells me that I did. I don’t remember much from the months before we moved – I don’t even remember movies I watched then, which is a bit scary in a way. I don’t particularly remember most of these past two months. It helps that I didn’t do much – just sat around on my computer, read books, wrote stories, watched movies. I didn’t do anything. I even remember wondering how much of it I would forget.

I don’t remember how unhappy I was. In a few weeks I probably won’t remember today, either. I won’t remember that I’m crying right now.

I annoy myself. I’m so self-indulgent. I’m so used to getting what I want that when I don’t, I just sort of mope about, giving people pitiful, begging looks. (Usually this is when I want someone to make me food because navigating the fridge seems impossibly hard.) I know that I’m being ridiculous, so I rarely break down and ask for anything, and my family is not prone to giving me things just because I give them puppy eyes. So I’ve learned to get things for myself or go without. (Again, usually food.) And yet, because what I truly want is always something I can easily get, I still haven’t learned to just grow up and deal with it.

They’re so far away, and I don’t know what to do.

I knew it would be like this. I knew I’d be miserable. I’ve moved before, and these are the most amazing friends. I expected this. I even packed my biggest stuffed animal in my hand luggage for the express purpose of hugging him whenever I needed to cry.

The problem with forgetting my misery like this is that I don’t learn to cope very well. Every new misery feels almost as fresh as the last. And I haven’t been properly miserable in weeks, so my mind has presumably deemed it safe to throw out all the memories that could help me get some perspective right now.

I’m going to have to go through a year of this. Maybe a little less. Presumably I’ll get better at it. People do, I’m told. There’s no reason why I should be any different. I have been getting better at it.

It’s odd. A few days ago I was unhappy that I couldn’t make myself miss them enough to curl up into a little ball and sob for longing. I’m so good at pushing my feelings back, at distracting myself, at not missing people that I can’t cry for any extended period of time. My mind wanders over to other things and won’t let me.

They were all unhappy yesterday, for one reason or another. Or maybe it wasn’t all of them, but it felt like it. Mostly they just had bad days at work, or ran into unpleasant people. Maybe this is what’s making me feel this way. I want to be there and cheer them up. I do the best I can from over here, and sometimes I succeed, but I want to hug them and laugh with them and talk about random things until they’re smiling again. If I’m being honest with myself, there’s no reason I’d have been able to do it in Denmark, either; it’s not like I would necessarily have seen them just then. Maybe this was just a reminder of how far away I am. Maybe that’s why it hurts.

Every language has certain words that are untranslatable, and of which native speakers are often very proud. In Danish it’s hyggelig, which has many meanings, but mostly means a warm, happy feeling of being surrounded by good things, of being content. In Portuguese it’s saudade, which means that special longing for something that you no longer have. The sorrow of being parted from someone you love.

It’s a good word. It doesn’t have to be tragic. It doesn’t have to be permanent. It doesn’t even have to be serious.

It just hurts, that’s all.

Protected

My gymnasium had a sort of end-of-the-year party a few months ago. This is what I wrote in my journal the following day.

I miss my friends.

It’s always strange to go to a party, especially when I’m feeling so… fragile. Volatile. I kept needing to go off and be alone. What I really needed was silence, but I couldn’t find that, so I just fled to the most solitary places I could find. My friends kept asking if I was well, but it was nothing physical. The worst I had in that area was a headache, and it wasn’t really the problem.

At one point I put my head on Ripple’s shoulder and closed my eyes for a while. A bit later I put my head on the table and did the same.

Suddenly I felt a hand on my hair – Indigo, next to me. Then another – Ripple? – and a third – Crash, from across the table. I looked up and blinked in slight bewilderment at them; they all smiled back, half sheepish and half amused.

I put my head back down on the table and mused on the strange and unfamiliar feeling of being the one who is protected, who is small. No one has ever felt that way about me before unless I’d made them feel it – deliberately manipulated them into thinking so, and in the process hidden away a large part of who I am. (There’s family, of course, but that’s different.) I’ve always been the strong one – if not always the protector, then at least one who does not need protecting. I’ve never been the protected to anyone who actually knew me through and through.

It was strange, but I decided that it was also rather nice. These are people who know me, who know that I am strong but will allow me to be weak sometimes. Or maybe it’s really the other way around and I only think I’m strong. Either way, they know who I am and they want to protect me, without ever asking that I be anything but myself.

Strange, but nice.

The Last Day

We fly tomorrow. We’re leaving the house today. I’m surprisingly calm, which doesn’t mean I’m not jittery – my stomach feels tight and nervous. My mom is also surprisingly calm, which doesn’t mean she isn’t losing it. She’s just losing it in a very controlled way, which I find pretty impressive.

The movers are really sweet. There were three of them yesterday and I think four today; the big guy, who I think is the boss, helped me take my mattresses to the dumping place this morning, and was wonderfully friendly about it. The dumping place, by the way, is this piece of sidewalk around a tree, between parking spaces, halfway down the street that’s at the end of our street. For some reason there’s always dead furniture there; it’s on the way to a school, so perhaps the idea is that parents will see it and think “Hey, that looks nice!” and then take it home (or come back for it if they need a car to carry it). We’ve been leaving all our stuff there, because we don’t have a car and the Red Cross shop nearby (which is still more than twice as far as this dumping place) doesn’t want anything but clothes, which is what we have least of.

The stress of organizing the transportation of a family and all its worldly goods (except those which will be left behind – a careful sorting process) across an ocean is enough to make anyone want to tear their hair out (or other people’s hair; pain is a bothersome thing to deal with when you’re already stressed). My mom has managed to be mostly sane, and when she goes insane, she quickly stomps it down. She swings wildly between being her normal self and going into Berserk Mode, in which she has to forcibly restrain herself from throwing everything out the window; she worries that there won’t be enough room in the shipping container for all the boxes we have and nearly chooses to leave behind the whole kitchen, then resigns herself to renting a bigger container if necessary; she looks at things and says “I don’t need this, why am I keeping this? Here, Splash, give this to one of your friends. It’s a good teapot, they don’t make these anymore. It seems a shame, even, giving it away. They really don’t make these anymore, and it’s such a good teapot. You know what, never mind. I want this teapot, I already know that. Be consistent, be consistent. You wanted the teapot; keep the teapot.”

The truth is, though, that she’s organized everything spectacularly. I get the impression that when we get there we won’t find much missing, and we won’t find much extra. (There will always be something, of course; I’m sure there always is. But I think it won’t be much, and not vital.)

When we get there… This is going to be so strange. My dad is already there, waiting; he has been for a month now. He says he feels as if he’s in limbo, neither here nor there. My mom asked yesterday, half teasing, “So, what are your plans for the thirtieth?” My honest answer: Sleep. That desire is the only thing I feel I can accurately predict. Everything else… I have no clue how I’m going to feel. I don’t know what I’m going to think. I don’t know if I’m going to be lethargic and dreamy and detached from the world or bursting with energy and excitement. I don’t know if I’m going to be dying inside from longing or buzzing inside from the feeling of being home. And these are just guesses – for all I know it’ll be something completely different. I imagine I’ll probably swing wildly between all sorts of moods, but I don’t know how frequently is wildly (twenty times a day? once a week?) and I don’t even know for sure if I’m right.

I know I’ll be happy when I see Belle. I know I’ll be happy when I see the library, my old school, all the places I’ve been that have held meaning for me. I know I’m going to spend some amount of time curled up on the bed crying. I am bringing my biggest stuffed animal in my hand luggage for the express purpose of hugging it when that happens. I know it is going to feel surreal sometimes, looking at all the places I know so well and yet don’t. I don’t know how long it’ll be before that feeling fades, or if it even will. Maybe a year from now I’ll look at a street sign of the type I’ve looked at all my childhood and feel that odd déjà vu feeling of alien familiarity, and wonder where that came from.

We turn over the keys to the apartment at five. I’m seeing Squiggle after that, and meeting my mom and my sister at the hotel later. I’ve invited the rest of my Mao-people to dinner after; so far the only one to answer has been Ripple (who is probably the only one awake at this hour during a vacation), and she said yes, gladly. Most of my people have said they want to see me off at the airport, and were only slightly daunted when I told them the plane left at seven in the morning.

I haven’t cried from the sadness of leaving them, not lately, because I dealt with that a month or two ago. They gave me two paintings the last time I saw them, which was Tuesday – Taz made them, being the best artist in the group, and they are the most beautiful things in the world. I nearly did cry when I saw them. On Wednesday I took them out twice, once to show my sister and once to show my mother, and both times I looked at them and looked at them and ended up curled on my bed, weeping for sheer joy. These are the most wonderful friends.

I think I’ll probably cry at the airport tomorrow, for joy and for sorrow. I should take plenty of kleenex.

Telling Them

I told my friends I was leaving. Last Tuesday. It was going to be Monday, but Midnight wasn’t there – she was hanging out with some other friends. It was the first time this had happened, and it was really bad timing. “Don’t let her do this again tomorrow,” I told Indigo as we gathered our things to go back to class. “I have something to say.” Then Taz, Squiggle and I went to Indigo’s house after school, Indigo brought it up, and on the way home Squiggle guessed what it was. I sighed and told her the whole story, because I knew better than to leave her with no explanation. Taz guessed too, on Facebook later that day, but luckily I was already saying good night and so didn’t have to answer. Indigo also guessed, though I only found out the following day. I suppose my friends know me pretty well.

I literally made myself sick with worry all Tuesday morning – I got a headache, my stomach was clenched in a knot, I felt like I would burst into tears at the drop of a hat. I went up to Ripple and Crash’s classroom after the first class of the day and found Ripple looking even worse than I felt. She said she was going home, and I nearly panicked. “No! You can’t! I have something to tell you all!”

“Can’t you tell me now?” she asked. I found that no, I couldn’t. “I don’t think I can say it twice.”

She said she’d log onto Skype during lunch, then. I nodded, knowing it was the best I would get and grateful that I wouldn’t have to choose between putting it off another day or telling her on facebook or something. “Are you okay?” she asked. I just shook my head and shrugged at the same time – No, but it’s fine. Don’t worry about me. “Get better,” I told her with the closest thing to a smile I could muster. (Seriously, I was a wreck. I was overreacting more dramatically than I ever thought I would. I usually see myself as a sensible person who’ll react reasonably to things, but apparently I’m wrong.)

Crash didn’t even notice. He was doing math on his computer and had his back to me the whole time. It’s just as well – I was able to change the subject, asking what he was doing and such.

Lunchtime came around. Now everyone knew I had news. Squiggle wanted me to sit ‘in the middle’, and to be honest so did I. I ended up sitting between Crash and Taz, with the other three across from me. Ripple, on Crash’s computer (or was it Midnight’s?), was on the other side of Taz, to my right. I told them. “I’m not going to be here for the next school year. I’m moving in the summer. I’m going back to the US.”

I was looking down at the table. I didn’t see their immediate reactions. Indigo said that she’d guessed. Squiggle already knew, and Taz wasn’t exactly surprised either. He put a hand on my knee as I kept talking, to lend comfort and support and so on, but it didn’t work as well as it was supposed to. I told them the details and the reasons, as well as I could. They asked a few questions. I finally looked up at each of them. The one I remember most is Midnight. She was angry as well as sad, and she was the only one who didn’t seem to accept the news – as if she wanted to go and beat up reality until it changed its mind. No, that’s not quite right. She wasn’t the only one who felt that way, it’s just – what was it? I think it’s that I had to sit and watch as she felt reality closing in and taking away the options of denial. (To be fair, Ripple and Crash may have felt the same things, but I couldn’t see Ripple very well and I find Crash really hard to read. So I don’t know.)

Part of me was still worried that they’d give up on me now that I was leaving. In a way, part of me is still worried. It’s not that I don’t trust my friends – it’s just that I don’t trust my own judgment of people. Most people have to tell me about themselves before I can understand them. This has happened with Indigo, Squiggle and Taz, but not so much with Ripple, Midnight and Crash. So while I’m not afraid in regards to the former, the latter worry me still. Especially Midnight, because I think she’s been abandoned before by people she trusted. I don’t want to abandon her, and that’s really not how I see it, but I can’t do more than hope that that’s not how she sees it.

As for Ripple and Crash . . . I don’t think they’ll feel bereft and betrayed, as Midnight might. But they might still close me out. I don’t think they will – they haven’t so far – but like I said, I don’t trust my own judgment of people. I can still only hope that I’m right about them, and it still scares me to leave my happiness in the hands of others.

Belle gave me some good advice yesterday: Forget about it. Get over it, move on. Find something else to put your energy into – write a story, bake a cake, whatever. You can’t affect the outcome, so don’t waste time getting all anxious about it. I’m going to try to take her advice, but I have to admit I don’t think I’ll be that good at it.

The other problem with all this is that in telling my friends, it seems to finally have sunk in for me. Not that I’m leaving Denmark: I’ve known that for a while now, and I’m actually rather pleased about it. That I’m leaving them. That it’ll hurt. That these people matter more to me than I’ve realized, or maybe more than I’ve admitted to myself. And so I’ve been depressed this past week, and making myself sick and head-achey and such. I’ve not been angry, exactly, nor exactly apathetic, and it would be silly to say I’m sad all the time. I’m not. Just – well – often.

I haven’t really paid attention to school since Tuesday. A little, in the more important classes – Italian and Danish, especially – but not really. I haven’t done my homework. I’ve been indulging myself pretty much constantly, because I know that it’s the best way to keep out of depression and head-aches and such. I spent all of today in my bedroom, doing a jigsaw puzzle. I hope I haven’t worried my parents.

Yesterday I was going to go get my passport renewed, and I decided to cut my third class of the day to do so. I ran into Crash and Ripple as I was going to the photography shop to take pictures, and when they asked me what I was doing I lied and said my class was canceled. I felt bad lying, but Crash and Ripple are the only two who might have actually tried to get me back to class, and I couldn’t have dealt with it just then. I spent five to ten minutes joking around with them, went home to get my birth certificate, cash for the photos, and so on, then got the photos taken. By then it was two o’clock, which is when school gets out, so I went to spend another half hour with my friends. I had to get to the embassy before three, when it closed, but I figured I could spare another half hour and honestly, I was in need of company.

See, the reason for my depression this week is that I’m going to have to leave my friends. Unsurprisingly, the best and most total cure for this depression is spending time with them. When I am surrounded by them, I feel better.

Y class was having Danish; everyone else was free. Crash, Ripple, Taz and I had way too much fun – for way too long, too, because suddenly I looked at the clock and it was two minutes to three. The embassy was closed, and they don’t open on weekends so I’d have to wait a whole week before getting it renewed. See, this next week is the week of class trips for second years, and I’m going to Florence. Ripple and Crash are going to Iceland. Midnight, Squiggle and Indigo are also going to Florence, conveniently enough, so I’m not likely to get overly depressed while I’m there. We intend to get together and do stuff and have fun and such. We all feel very sorry for Taz, who’s only in first year and will have to suffer an entire week without our spectacular company.

We talked yesterday – and joked, and played around – until Ripple had to go meet her mother at the shopping mall (which is two minutes from the school). We accompanied her, in part to get chocolate. Ripple went off with her mom, Crash and Taz got chocolate, Indigo joined us (Squiggle and Midnight left, each for their own reasons) and we went back to school, where we sat and talked for another hour or two.

I’m lucky in my friends. I’m glad I had this last day with them, even if it cost me a class and a passport. (To be honest I don’t really care about the class – it was just Geography – and while I do care about the passport, I don’t think it’s such a terrible price to pay.) I’m glad I’m going to Florence, so I can hopefully clear my head a bit. I’m glad that Midnight, Indigo and Squiggle will be there too, so they can save me if I fall into gloom. Perhaps on this trip I’ll tell a few of my classmates that I’ll be leaving. Whether I do or not, it should be a good trip. I think I’ll come back much more cheerful, and hopefully with more of a grip on myself.

It’s Okay to Be Happy

Realistic fiction would have you believe there are no happy people out there. Everyone has suffered some deeply traumatic experience in their childhood, been hated by their parents, been abused, been bullied, been abandoned. Everyone has scars to cope with, however well they hide them and however they think they’ve gotten over them. No one is exempt, not by their age or social station, not by their kindness or by their pride.

It’s not true, though. Some people are perfectly happy. Not all less-than-perfect childhoods are the source of Deep Scars. I know I’m only eighteen and thus still young enough for a Defining Traumatic Experience to hit me, but most characters have suffered one or more by this age. I haven’t. Sure, I sucked at making friends and was teased mercilessly through all of middle school, but I didn’t really mind the teasing and I’ve learned to make friends. My parents are not only loving and fair, they also treat me like a person and always have, listening to what I have to say and never just ordering me around. I may not have had many friends when I was younger, but I valued the ones I had. I lived through a thousand adventures in a thousand worlds and learned all there was to learn from them, and far from losing track of reality, all those adventures have only grounded me more firmly.

On the second morning of the Harry Potter marathon, Ripple, Taz and I talked about our childhood schoolmates. Or rather, Taz and I talked while Ripple listened. Taz told us about the unpleasant people in his previous classes; I told them about my not-quite-as-unpleasant peers in middle school. Both of us remarked on why this group of Mao-people was so exceptionally special to us. Ripple was silent.

I have three theories as to why: she’s a very private person who would rather not share; she has her own dark experiences which are beyond anything Taz and I ever went through, and which she didn’t want to bring into the light; or she’s always been a reasonably normal, well-adjusted girl with lots of friends, who’s never gone through anything even close to real bullying, and she felt awkward saying so.

The first of those I believe is true regardless of anything else: she doesn’t go around blurting out her past to whoever will listen like I do (or like Taz, for that matter). As for the rest – from what I know of her, I think it’s more likely that she grew up happy and with plenty of friendship about her. I don’t think I’m being more optimistic than realistic in this assessment, either. I hope I’m being accurate, too, because I’m a protective person and I hate it when my friends have been unhappy.

Anyway. Point is, what with hearing about how insufferable our former classmates had been, I think Ripple probably felt awkward, worried, and maybe a bit shocked by our tales of woe. When I heard that Squiggle had gotten into fights – actual, violent physical altercations, in the plural – I was stunned. I was blown away. In the world I inhabit, this simply does not happen. I think something similar may have been going through Ripple’s mind as Taz and I compared bullies. Perhaps this was awful and unbelievable to her. Perhaps she thinks we’re tragically damaged now.

Truth is, in my case at least, I consider the whole experience to have been useful, educational, and wicked fun. It honed my wit and taught me how to understand social groups in an almost instinctive way, at least in regards to who was friends with whom and where I fit into the structure. I never found it anything more than infuriating, even at the worst of times – none of the people who taunted me was ever important enough to actually hurt me. So Ripple has nothing to worry about on my account. Taz, on the other hand – well, one of the advantages of being a girl is that people don’t hit you. If they do, you can scream like a baby without blemish to your honor. (Dignity, maybe, but not honor.) Eventually Taz got so enormously tall that people stopped messing around with him, but even being this tall, he’s not a violent person. I think he’d put up with a lot before lashing out, and that’s not always a good thing. And I think I took it all better than he did, mostly because I was older when it started. So maybe Taz’ story isn’t as carefree as mine, and maybe he’s not as confident as I am after it all, but I think he’s turned out well enough even so.

I wanted to tell Ripple not to worry, that we were fine. I also wanted to tell her that she was allowed to have been happy. We wouldn’t have been angry or jealous or anything silly like that – we’d be happy for her, that’s all. I didn’t want to pry, in case I was wrong and she really does have some horrible Dark Trauma lurking in her past, but now I see I should have just gone ahead and said it. If I’d been wrong, she’d have answered with some meaningless piece of nothing and we’d have moved on, but if I’d been right, I might have been able to make her feel easier. I try to make a point of not poking my nose into people’s business, but sometimes silence isn’t as golden as it’s cracked up to be.

The other thing she might have been worried about was how Taz and I both kind of painted these Mao-people as pretty much the only real friends we’d ever had. That’s not true, in my case at least, but this is the first time that I’ve fit so seamlessly into a group. It’s to be expected that I’d be rather enthusiastic about it. That’s probably not the way Ripple sees it, though – this won’t be the first time for her, and she probably has other friends that she values as highly as us or more. Perhaps she feels guilty for that sentiment, now that she sees how important this is to us. Perhaps she thinks she’s betraying us by not caring as much as we do.

She’s not. She shouldn’t feel that way. If she’d told us this it would have been a bit hard to hear, but in the end it’s fine. She’s allowed to have friends, after all. If we held that against her, we would ourselves be unworthy of her friendship.

If I’m wrong about Ripple and she was just quiet because she’s a private person, well and good. (If I’m wrong and she has a terrible secret in her past, well, I’m probably going to be furious and depressed when I hear about it, but I refuse to expect it.) If I’m right and she felt scandalized and awkward as we told our stories, then I should have told her that she doesn’t have to. She doesn’t have to worry and she doesn’t have to feel embarrassed of her own happiness.

Your friends don’t have to be just like you. They don’t have to have a similar past or all the same interests. People don’t have to have gone through what you’ve gone through in order to understand you or stand by you. Friendship usually rests on a similar outlook on life and a fondness for and understanding of each other; everything else is extra.

The Harry Potter Marathon (part 2)

Continued:

Before going to sleep I had warned my friends that I am a monster in the mornings, and that if you wake me with lights and noise I will hate you with a black and bitter loathing for a good while after. This is perfectly true, and I was also completely honest when I said that if you anger me as I’m waking up I will not forgive you for the rest of the day (or at least not until I’ve won a shouting match with you). I think I scared them a little, because they were very nice about waking me. They were not quite as nice to Crash, though that might have been just because he was so hard to get up.  He fell off the bed and onto my mattress just as I finally sat up and started noticing my surroundings, apparently because he’d been either dragged or pushed there (or both). He grabbed my pillow, but I wasn’t ready to get up yet after all and grabbed it right back. (I think I tried to leave him half, but it didn’t work out so well because everyone else was trying so hard to yank him to his feet.) It took another ten minutes of poking, pulling, laughing and stealing his covers before he finally got up.

We made our sleepy way downstairs again, where there was breakfast. Ripple made smoothies – unfortunately these contained berries, which I am not fond of, but she had a banana and I ate that. It broke in half and fell on the floor, which saddened me greatly. I picked it up and put it back, and three minutes later it fell again. This saddened me so that I threw away the broken-off piece and grumpily settled for what was left.

We retired to the living room. I wrapped myself in my sleeping bag, lay down against someone – Taz, I think – and tried to keep my eyes open. Luckily I haven’t seen the fourth movie so very many times, so I managed without any great difficulty. I think Crash didn’t have too much trouble either, and no one else was as prone to drifting off. Indigo showed up towards the end of the movie and someone descended to the matress. After that we regularly changed seats so everyone would have a chance on the couch. Come to think of it, I think Indigo was the only one not to lie on the floor – perhaps because she was still a bit sick, and we all subconsciously wanted to ensure she stayed well. (It was subconscious for me, anyway.)

After the fifth movie Ripple declared that we all needed fresh air. This was a despotic decree on her part; no one had any choice in the matter. After much griping and groaning about how cold it was outside, we finally changed out of our pyjamas and went. Everyone was hungry by then, so we stopped by a pizza place and everyone but Squiggle ordered a pizza. I had no cash on me, so I borrowed from Taz. Then we stopped by the supermarket again to buy chocolate. Squiggle bought a cucumber, for some unfathomable reason even she couldn’t give. The line was irritatingly long, and Ripple and I left them there and went off ahead. There was a yarn shop between her house and the supermarket which had previously caught my eye; now Ripple suggested we might look inside. I needed no more encouragement, and I came out of there with four skeins of a lovely deep blue. Ripple laughed at me, but I didn’t mind.

We came out and saw everyone else walking ahead of us. We giggled at them as they came to the door and rang the bell repeatedly and fruitlessly. Then we all went inside and ate pizza, except Squiggle, who ate her cucumber. The TV had mysteriously stopped working, and Ripple, Taz and Crash spent ten minutes trying to figure out why. Ripple finally called her dad, who suggested pressing the ‘on’ button on the television set. Feeling rather silly, we settled down to more Harry Potter.

I’d only seen each of the last three movies once, so I was quite gripped. We had a few discussions about how good a certain actor was or how tough a certain character had become, and one or two about how all of the battle spells seem to just throw people back in the air, no matter which one you choose. Crash commented on how ‘evil’ people actually murder their victims a lot more humanely than the ‘good’ ones – one hit with the Death Curse and they’re gone, instead of battering them with magic until they finally succumb.

At some point between movies it was decided that we would perform at the school’s Bandfest. Taz and Indigo both play the keyboard and Ripple plays the drums; Indigo has recently started learning to play guitar, so she ended up doing that. I got slated as lead singer. We agreed to meet the following Thursday to practice.

It was around midnight when we finally finished the movies. Squiggle had homework that she needed to turn in before ten a.m. the next day lest she face consequences which could be . . . severe, so she went home. Crash and Indigo did the same, for less urgent reasons. Taz, Ripple and I saw them off, cleaned up a bit and went to bed.

I had a weird dream in which Ripple was forcing us all to go out hiking. She’d already gotten Taz on her side, and both of them were growing steadily more annoyed as I struggled to get up and move at anything other than a snail’s pace. Meanwhile the whole bedroom was transported to Russia, I think it was, though it might have been France. There were immense public gardens with monolithic structures in reddish-pinkish-orange granite. I couldn’t find my hiking boots and Ripple was threatening to leave without me.

Taz finally dragged me into the land of wakefulness. He took even longer to wake me than Squiggle had, just sort of rubbing my shoulder and saying my name. I have no idea how long he was at it before I started hearing him, but it took a while after that before I woke enough to open my eyes. I wanted to tell him to stop speaking Danish and try English instead, it being my native tongue and all, but I was too sleepy.

When woken, I will not get out of bed unless bullied into doing so. I’m actually quite susceptible to this kind of bullying, seeing as I know myself so well and do realize that getting up is what people are supposed to do in the mornings. Just give me five to ten minutes, and then you can drag me off whenever. Taz and Ripple didn’t know that, though, and didn’t seem inclined to test my temper. We ended up just talking for some while as I slowly woke up.

I made an effort. Really I did. Eventually I attained a sitting position. I even stood up. Then we all just sort of stood around staring at each other, and I gave up and sat back down. Ripple fell over onto the bed, and I took that as a cue to do the same. Taz joined us. Ripple started drumming on his stomach, then mine. This turned into a tickle fight, which ended up with all of us sort of piled on top of each other. On top of me, actually, now that I think about it. Hmph. Anyway, this process repeated itself, with small variations, several times.

We went down to breakfast. It was a tad awkward, as Ripple’s father and brother had both returned home and we’d never met either of them, but after the ice was broken pleasant, if sparse, conversation did take place. Then we retreated upstairs once more and piled on top of each other again for a bit. I looked at Ripple’s books – I find myself drawn to books no matter where I am – and we played with a puzzle box she had sitting on a shelf. After that we played a game called Axis of Evil, which was interesting (especially as I won both times).

After that it was sort of silently agreed upon that it was time to go. We changed out of our pyjamas, packed our things and finished cleaning up. Ripple saw us out, then Taz, who had a bike, walked with me to the bus stop – or almost to the bus stop, as the bus arrived just before we did and I sprinted to catch it. I spent the rest of Wednesday happy, except that I refused to admit how tired I was so I ended up doing nothing all day.

It was, all told, a spectacular movie marathon. It would have been better if we’d all been there, and from the start, but it was still fantastic. Sometimes I look around me and I realize how lucky I am to have people I can spend so much time with, people I can rely on and laugh with and spend time with without worrying. People who make me grin, and often, when they’re not even there. Not everyone has that. I am going to fight to keep this friendship together through the years, really I am, because it’s worth it.