The Cell Phone Situation

We have four identical cell phones in my family, one for each of us, which have served us well and faithfully through the years. They’re old-ish Nokias with a cover that flips up when you press a button on the side. My mother received an iPhone from her company about a year ago, which upped the number to five. Then my father forgot his phone in Brazil last Christmas. The SIM card he still had, for it had been taped to a piece of paper along with the other three and safely ensconced in my mother’s purse for the duration of the trip; but the phone was gone. On returning to Denmark, my mother gave him her phone, wherein he put his chip, and used her iPhone instead. This worked quite well.

Meanwhile, my phone started slowly going to pieces.

It started with laziness. Sometimes the SMSs I sent wouldn’t go the first time, and I’d look at my phone two hours after I thought I’d told someone something and, to my irritation, find out why they hadn’t answered. Well that was no big deal, right? I just learned to double-check. No problem.

But then my cell phone got jealous. It started interrupting my calls midway. It wouldn’t let me talk to anyone for more than a minute. That ticked me off. There was nothing I could really do about it, though, except warn people and try to communicate solely through texts. It sometimes refused to recognize the SIM card. Occasionally it would suddenly declare “Phone restricted” and demand a password before it would allow me to do anything. I had no such password, and in fury I would remove its guts and condemn it to blackness.

It usually worked properly after being turned off and on again a few times. Even so, things got steadily worse. Squiggle took pity on me, and offered me an old phone she had lying around and which she hadn’t used in ages. I gratefully accepted, and took it home quite cheerfully – only to find that it didn’t work either. It simply wouldn’t turn on, no matter what I did. I gave a woeful sigh and resigned myself to my fate.

Then my phone started really letting itself go. Literally. One of the hinges where the screen attached to the body of the phone came off, and persisted in doing so every time I put it back. The back of the phone broke in such a way that it wouldn’t come off all the way when I wanted to change the battery – which I suddenly had to do quite often, because the phone forgot how to charge itself. I had to steal the life forces of other phones to feed mine. I found myself giving the Voldemort speech: “See what I have become? See what I must do to survive? Live off another, a mere parasite!”

Squiggle told me that the phone she’d given me probably just needed to be charged. All I had to do was go to her place and get the charger. And yet I didn’t. There is, to be honest, a certain appeal in being difficult to contact when you are eighteen years old and slightly ticked off at your parents, which I was at the time. So I took great care with my poor decrepit phone, cosseting and coddling it through its cranky fits of disobedience. Until one day I dropped it.

It was an accident. I didn’t mean for it to slip out of my hands, and I certainly didn’t mean for the screen to disconnect entirely from the body. It was a totally accidental decapitation.

Oh, how I mourned over my little phone, how I sorrowed at its passing. Bitter were my tears and broken was my soul.

Until – oh cruel irony! I found that the creature was not dead, merely paralyzed and blinded. Others could still call me; I could simply not pick up, for the moment I tried to flip open the screen, no matter how gently, the poor thing died. And so, with the mocking laughter of the universe echoing in my ears, I went phoneless.

It didn’t last too long, luckily. My sister went to Finland with her photography class and left her phone behind; I used that. Then my parents went to California, and I used my dad’s phone. My mom came back from California (my dad has stayed, setting up the house a little) and continued using her iPhone.

Until last week, that is. The phone wasn’t a gift from her company, but a loan, and they wanted it back, which left her without a phone. Except, of course, that she called on the Power of Mom and took mine. Once again I am left phoneless. And then, to add insult to injury, I ran out of cash on my SIM card. So now I couldn’t call anyone even if I could call anyone.

I begged Squiggle for help, and she promised to bring the charger over to my house today. An hour ago, in fact. I don’t know if she’s forgotten, if she’s just late, if I misunderstood the time… And I can’t even call her to ask.

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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.

Leaving

As a rule, friends tend to disappoint me. They do something, or don’t do something; they aren’t there when I need them to be. Sometimes it’s my fault: sometimes I just don’t find them interesting as I once did, and maybe sometimes I’m the one who fails them and I just don’t know it. Regardless, it’s taught me to take time before growing attached.

I haven’t taken as long as I usually do this time. These Mao-people . . . I started playing cards with them, I started having fun, and all of a sudden I trust them with my happiness. For a person who’s always in control of herself even if of nothing else, it was almost frighteningly sudden; but I hardly noticed, and by the time I did it was too late. I was caught. That was when I started worrying about being disappointed, left behind, cut adrift once more; but in no time at all, that stopped too, and now all I’m left with is the total joy of spending time with people who understand me, matter to me and are more fun than I get with very nearly anyone else. Certainly what I have with them I can’t have anywhere else, and I’m not afraid any more that any one of them might take it away.

But I’m going to lose it anyway. I’m going to lose them, and it’s going to hurt more than it ever has before because this time it’ll be entirely my fault. I’m going to leave them, and there’s nothing I can do about it but hope against bitter hope that they’ll understand, that they won’t feel as I feel every time it happens to me, that they won’t subtly relegate me to the outskirts of their friendship. I don’t think they would, but it might not be conscious – and if it isn’t, then I am truly doomed. I can’t convince them to change their minds if they aren’t aware of what they think, and then I’ll be left alone, crying in the dark because I’ve lost my joy and this time it’s my fault.

I tell myself to stop worrying. I tell myself I can trust them. I can, I know I can, but it’s hard to convince myself that I’m right. Part of me hisses, cruelly, “You haven’t even known them for that long. How can you say you know how they’d react? You don’t know for sure. You’re letting them down. You’re disappointing them. Of course they’ll leave you, and it serves you right.”

I do trust them. I’m just not used to giving other people this much power over me, that’s all, and part of me thinks I’m an idiot for doing so. That part of me will just have to get over it, though. The price of friendship is trust, and it’s worth the price.

The part that hurts most, though, is the part I’m resigned to. Or, well, not yet. I know I’ll have to resign myself to it, but I’m still at the phase where I beat my fists against the inevitable and refuse to back down.

Thing is, even if I’m right to trust them and they don’t let me down, I’ll still be leaving. I have to, because logic and reason tell me that I’d be better off leaving, and anyway it’s too late to stop it even if I truly wanted to. We made the decision as a family; we’d have to unmake it as a family, and that’s not going to happen. But for an entire year they’ll be together and I’ll be an ocean away. They’ve even been saying, and I don’t know how serious they are but it’s not just a joke, that after gymnasium they’d like to share an apartment. That means they’ll be together and I won’t. I know this sounds like I’m jealously wishing that they’d be torn apart by time too, but that’s not it. I just want to be here too. I want to be here as we grow closer, not watch from afar as they grow closer. I can’t bear to let go of what I have.

Logic and reason tell me that I must go, and it’s not like I have a choice anymore. But my heart is so confused.

Getting Back

The flight from Rio to Copenhagen was eleven hours. I don’t think I slept at all. I watched two movies: Pitch Perfect, which was cute and had really cool music, and The Perks of Being a Wallflower, which was surprising. I really enjoyed that one. Then I played hangman in French, and did freakishly well. I was also more violently sick at the end of that flight than I have been for many years, so that was depressing. When we arrived in France, we left the airport to amble through the streets of Paris (after a minor currency issue, namely that no one had any euros). It was lovely, but everyone was too tired to appreciate it. I went into the Notre Dame for what I think was the first time in my life, so that was lovely. The place was enormous, even for a cathedral, but I expected no less. I got “God Save the Outcasts” stuck in my head as I stood before the enormous round stained glass windows. (To my disappointment, they cast no interestingly colored light upon the floor. It was a cloudy winter’s day, though.)

I fell asleep in the Gallerie Lafayette. A few friendly ladies working in the nearby shoe shop nearly called an ambulance because they couldn’t wake me. We walked by the Louvre, we walked over the Seine, we walked through picturesque streets and past closed restaurants. There was a bridge over the Seine absolutely covered in padlocks. Each padlock had a couple of names on it, so it was easy enough to guess what they meant. The bridge was beautifully golden from all the padlocks.

Eventually no one could take it anymore and we went back to the airport. My sister fell asleep at the gate, and my mom almost did too. I made sure not to sleep until I was on the plane, and it worked: I have no recollection of the trip to Copenhagen at all. For once we got a cab instead of taking the metro, as no one had the strength to drag our suitcases from the station to our apartment. We got home shortly before midnight, and my sister made rice. There was also, somehow, ham, which we mixed with the rice. It tasted wonderful, but then most things do when you’re that hungry and exhausted.

I got up the next day at about three in the afternoon. I spent the day happily doing nothing. I went to bed at ten or eleven and spent the ensuing five to six hours chatting with my sister. I didn’t even feel tired. My mom finally came in at four and told us off for staying up so late.

She woke us up the next morning, thankfully. An alarm clock just wouldn’t have done the trick.