I was reading a book review this morning. In it the reviewer comments that “It’s no coincidence that the teenage years dominate so many memoirs. They’re a good deal more interesting than those dull early-childhood years favored by Freud.”
Really? How about you all. Were your teenage years more interesting, in a good way, or fraught with anger and angst, than your early childhood days? Were those teenage years a normal mix of good and bad; All good; All bad?
Between the ages of 13 and, oh say, 20, life was static. I won’t say happy – that word surely never entered my mind during any time of my life spent in my parents home. I was 14 when I started high school. By that time the physical abuse had pretty much stopped, I was bigger than The Mother and we had a dog who would not tolerate her raising a hand to me. If she wanted to beat on me she had to chain the dog up first. She learned that the hard way. The psychological abuse never stopped – not until I was 48 and ceased having any contact with her but other than that…
…They were quiet years. I hated the high school I went to but it was the only game in town. I had passed the test for Hunter High School for Girls but that year they didn’t take anyone from Queens, so we were told. It would have been a long commute from Queens to Manhattan and girls were still “protected” back in 1960. Too much traveling for our sensitive delicate little selves – Ha!
My high school, the year I started, had an official enrollment of 6000 students. Yes, you read that right. The frequent race riots had dissipated and everyone pretty much kept to their own, self-designated areas. I mostly stayed away from the place for the first year and half, then it dawned on me that if I wanted to got to college I needed to make some grades. It also took the school that long to figure out I wasn’t there that often. One white, high-IQ, under-achieving but passing, girl didn’t draw much attention amongst gangs, assaults, rapes and other assorted mayhem.
My social life, what there was of it, centered around church and my immediate neighborhood. I knew these kids since I was 8. We all went to the same schools and all that blah blah blah. I certainly wasn’t popular. I was fat, ugly, smart and quiet. Never had a boy friend. Never went on a date. Never invited to parties. Never was kissed. But I was the one everyone confided in. Asked advice from. I suppose as much as teenagers respect other teenagers, I was that.
I was never ever teased or disrespected in any way. Never. Ever. In my whole life. Any where. Any time.
Except at home and by my family of course.
My teenage years were far from interesting. I went my own way, did my own thing, alone. No one interfered. No one cared. Some crap at home but I was used to it. I managed to placate The Mother – I did the chores, I took care of my brother, I stayed out of her way. Easy peasy.
So my teenage years? Quiet. Dull. Uneventful. Probably the quietest, calmest time of my life. Nothing going on that would make a memoir interesting or memorable. For all intents and purposes, and certainly to the casual eye, I was a good girl living an exemplary life.
Good thing they couldn’t read my mind!