I spent the summer at the pool with “friends.” The friends that I thought were really full fledged friends but if something came up I was left out. I knew that when school started these friends would be gone. But they were there during the summer and I enjoyed every moment of friendship I could.
This was the first summer since the divorce was finalized. My dad was moving into a house from the apartment that he had been living in, and my mom was spending her days running for hours at a time. My mom was training for a marathon and would go for a run in the morning and come back later that afternoon. She would spend nights going out with friends or being home on the couch watching tv. She was there or she wasn’t, most of the time it felt like it was just my brother and I.
When my mom wasn’t home, I was in charge of watching him. The country club we belonged to was walking distance from the house (or Razor scooter distance) and we would go there to swim on nice days. My brother, the film enthusiast, spent some days just wanting to be home and watch tv and movies. That meant I was home watching tv and movies. It wasn’t a bad thing, we ate what we wanted, did what we wanted, and really enjoyed doing a whole lot of nothing for the most part.
I still saw my dad during this time, but I can’t remember the schedule we kept and to be honest, I know at this point I was angry with him but not can’t remember the scope of our relationship at the time. I was furious that he left the family for another woman. My mom spared me no details of his affair and I’m absolutely positive I didn’t need to know everything I did. It left me bitter.
I do know that during this summer there were times my brother would be at my dad’s house and I wasn’t which meant I got to do anything I wanted to do. My mom was gone, my brother was gone, and I had all the freedom a 13 year old with a Razor Scooter could beg for.
This was the summer that my friends and I would meet at the pool when it opened and stayed till it closed. We would take small breaks going to someone’s house to get out of the sun, but mostly we were a group of girls and boys who had crushes on each other and spent as much time together as we could.
My mom always told me that three is a crowd. I was never great at making friends. I go all in. If I am your friend then I am your friend 100% and I expected the same. It was hard for me to understand that I could like someone and think we got along and they didn’t see me as their best friend back. To be honest, this is still something that is hard for me, but I’ve accepted that if you are my friend that means you get my full friendship and what you choose to give back is up to you. (Look at me, I’ve grown ever so slightly in the last 15 years.) Anyway, I had a terrible habit of finding two girls who were friends and then inserting myself into the friendship and not understanding why I wasn’t their best friend too, which is exactly what I did.
My brother and I dressed up probably for a nice dinner or event that summer.
This summer the group of friends was 3 girls, including me, and 2 boys. It was a great group and I thought we were pretty unstoppable. It seemed like it would last all summer, the five of us swimming and spending every moment of the day together, but it soon became two couples and me. All of a sudden they were pairing off to go make out in the bushes leaving me in the pool by myself.
It worked out well when my brother was home because the four of them could spend their days together and I could stay home with him and feel like it was my job and not that I was being left out.
Lizzie McGuire was my friend, romantic comedies were still giving me an unrealistic expectation, and I was drowning my loneliness by assuming that when I was older, I would have a car and more friends.
Just as summer was coming to an end, I had found my place in the group. I was the fifth wheel when we were together, but I didn’t let it bother me.
Well, except that one time that we played hide-and-go-seek and I hid and no one seeked me because they all went to kiss and cuddle and be alone. That bothered me. To this day, not that anyone asks, but I won’t play hide and seek.
Side story: One time at a birthday party when I was about 10 or 11 a huge group of all girls played a big game of hide and seek. No one found me for a very long time and when I came out of the broom closet I had been hiding in they were eating cake and pretended like they thought I left. I was REALLY cool you guys and hide-and-seek was never my favorite game.
Ok, back to this story. A part from the one hide-and-seek incident things were good. When I was home, I was able to watch tv and be alone. I would day dream about a summer romance that still hadn’t happened. I would envision that I was one of the four and not the fifth. I became comfortable being alone but craved human interaction. I was an extrovert stuck living the life of an introvert and I had become as comfortable as depression allows with certain situations.
With two weeks left of summer, one of the boys was returning home and his girlfriend was devastated, so they spent all their time together. But, at the same time, this new boy started coming to the pool and man was he cute. Pearson. Well, he rounded out our group to six and it didn’t matter that he liked the other girls more, they were taken. It sure didn’t matter to me that I was the only option because he was cute AND he was going to go to our school. This meant I would start 8th grade off right with a cute boyfriend. It was fate.
We flirted and never ever kissed, but we were boyfriend and girlfriend. He would reluctantly hold my hand and I would pretend I didn’t notice him flirting with my friends and ignored when they went to the make out bushes together to “talk.” This was my summer romance,, I was starting 8th grade with a boyfriend, and no matter how much he obviously didn’t like me I refused to see it.