Thursday, September 20, 2012

Ellie: I haven't forgotten.

It's been a busy summer, and now that I'm back in school, life is only getting busier. If Ellie was going through school at the normal rate, I would have graduated last spring, but thanks to her complicated life, I'm taking a delayed path through high school. Fair enough since I missed it the first time around.

I've only got two classes, science and math, then after lunch most days I work a shift at a department store. I spent all summer looking for work, but everyone was all hired up until September. This way I can save up, because I have a feeling I'm going to have to start seriously thinking about colleges. Truth is, it looks like the real Ellie is long gone and maybe never to return. I would give her her life back in a heartbeat... I don't have any particular attachment to it, obviously, but I'm comfortable here and really not comfy handing it off to someone else. I can handle being a teenage girl. Usually.

I spent a lot of this summer keeping the people I consider my friends at a distance. It started at prom, when I went with Callahan, and guilted my friend Iris into coming even though she'd be pretty much alone while I attended to my date. Iris is not the kind of person who would have a lot of fun dancing and partying, especially more or less alone. But I told her I cared about her too much to let her stay home while I was having fun. That was my mistake.

To her credit, she was game. On very short notice she got a great dress and when I asked throughout the night if she was having fun she didn't seem totally miserable. I told myself it was good for her but maybe I shouldn't have pushed so hard. I prodded her into coming along to an after-party with me and Callahan and Emily and her boyfriend. One of the jocks has really open-minded parents, so there was about 15 kids there, plenty of booze, and no adults.

I've already lived through some pretty wild stuff, honestly. These kids, getting their first taste of freedom, going a bit nuts, I understand. I really didn't expect Iris to take to it, though, but she really did dive in and start drinking. Until she started throwing up. I spent the last few hours of the night taking care of her in the bathroom. Between retching, she kept apologizing for making me take care of her like this and saying how pathetic she felt but I kept trying to tell her it's okay, she's young - I mean we're young. She fell asleep curled up in a ball on the bathroom floor, I slept in the bathtub. It was nice in a kind of weird sister-caretaker kind of way. But it seems like she was pretty embarrassed because she didn't talk to me much before going on vacation for most of the summer.

Meanwhile, there was Callahan, who I wasn't clicking with the way I thought I might. He was mainly interested in the physical aspect of being in a relationship. And don't get me wrong, he was handsome and I have needs, but when he holds me, I can't help but feel how much younger he is than me, how inexperienced. If I am going to be Ellie forever then I might have to stay alone for a while because the difference between me and everyone around me is too glaring, even after a year. I don't understand how Emily puts herself through it.

The good news is, if I wanted to know, I can ask. Emily obviously has the same spotty educational record as Ellie, so she's still here with me, while her boyfriend is off at University of Michigan, and Callahan is at University of Miami. I don't even know what she thinks of all this.

For now, the plan is just to soldier on, take it day by day as Ellie, year by year if necessary. It's depressing sometimes, to be stuck here, but I guess that's what being a teenager is.

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