Monday, February 18, 2008

This is from my for-reals, written down journal. It's green (the journal, not the entry).

I was just thinking about summer camp, three and a half years ago. It was an acting camp, and i was thirteen years old and going into my freshman year of high school, the youngest age allowed to attend this particular summer camp. I was feeling pretty tiny. One day, we were reading a scene in which I was the younger sister denouncing my "older sister" (in reality, a Long Islander named Amanda whom I barely knew) for her incessant drug use. The director, a daytime soap producer with a scraggly mustache, kept telling me to make it real-er, to give more emotion, to show the magnitude of this exchange and I... just couldn't. I didn't know anyone who did drugs, I'd never had to plead with anyone who insisted, for whatever reason, to throw their lives away in such a cliched manner and turn into a cautionary tale, and urban legend, or a "local teen" in the town's newspaper. I just didn't have the proper experience.

Now? Well I still don't personally know any bona fide addicts, unless you count a nearly forgotten childhood friend I see once a year at a family friend's Christmas party. Last I heard, that girl had run away from her boarding school for troubled youths in the Berkshires.

I can, however, rattle off the names of quite a few casual drug users, nearly as many more-than-casual drug users, and a pretty good number of semi-alcoholics, many (if not most) of whom I can confidently call my closest friends.

Maybe it's just the age. As mid-teenagers, we're first discovering who we are as actual people, not just as concepts or potential beings. And many of us, myself often included, cannot deal with that responsibility. We want to bury it under pharmaceuticals or wash it down with alcohol or burn it in a hastily rolled joint. Those are the people I worry about the most. The recreational, just for fun users don't scare me nearly as much as the escapists because the recreational users can basically stop whenever substance abuse ceases to be amusing, but the escapists can't rejoin reality without an intense and painful return trip.

Would I be able to successfully act out that scene from three years ago with the experience I have now? Probably not. I've tried pot quite a few times, I've been drunk more often than I'd care to admit, but I just didn't like either of those experiences, no matter how many times I tried each of them, so I couldn't understand the desperation necessary to talk someone out of a chemical addiction. My personal form of escapism is more literal: I take walks, I ride my bike, I do as best I can as a teenager without a drivers license to physically separate myself from a father who expects too much and a mother who makes it abundantly clear that she can't stand either of us most of the time. It doesn't help much, and sometimes I think the chemical escape would be more effective, but it gets me to a place where I'm not screaming every hateful thought that comes into my unfortunately sober mind.

Sometimes that just has to do, I guess.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

My older sister Kathryn is the center of her universe and everyone else's. I can't help but feel ignored sometimes, but she acts as if it's justified; that her life is just so big and legendary that there's no room left for me in my insignificance. She isn't consciously self-absorbed or malicious about it, she just can't bring herself to care about a younger sister with no ludicrously hilarious or emotionally charged stories to tell. So, instead, I have to listen to her wax poetic about her ex-boyfriend, a continuing friend of mine (which, of course, causes no shortage of awkwardness) or her new boyfriend, a nineteen-year-old druggie on probation I haven't yet had the pleasure of meeting, or her numerous witty and glamorous friends who seem to fawn over Kate's every action and utterance.

She reminds me of my younger sister Annie in that regard: the big language, the attitude that she's the star of her own play and everyone else is just trying to upstage her. However, my younger sister is six, and Kathryn is eighteen. Maybe it's middle-child syndrome or maybe it's just my own numerous neuroses coming to surface, but I sometimes wish that Kate could mature at least to the point of listening to anything I say.