The usual, small gang of teen girls crowded into my house last night. Two of them, mine and Senior Girl, are off this morning to Winter Percussion (a "club" the talented band booster president mentors. Kids gather to improve their drumming skills, some band members, some not), though none of them slept much last night. The other two, the ones I thought might not be able to come, are still sleeping up in my Girl's room, welcome here until my girl returns.
"Stay," she said to the one who was actually awake, though sleepy, only upright because she leaned against the wall. "I'll... I'll make you breakfast! And massage your feet...."
"Ew!" the half awake friend said.
"Well, OK, maybe not that," my girl said. "I just wanted to make staying sound, you know, sexy."
This burst of life in my house after 10 days of solitude is a shock to my reclusive system, but it's awfully good for me. This group of girls will probably only have another five or six such gatherings left before Senior Girl is off to boot camp. Then their world shifts again, as it does every year when friends graduate, and they'll have to figure out a way to realign their social stars.
After the girls first gather at my house, they don't stay long. They negotiate the activities (my girl calls this the "main entertainment"), the menu, the other kids they will visit. I am not the only parent among this group who lets kids hang out as often as they want. Not much for teens to do in this little city, though a few people are organizing a few things. We open our houses, provide places for the kids to be together safely.
At about 7:45, after more than an hour of debate, the girls left me, and went off to play Rock Band at a guy friend's house (I do know the kid, know his parents). My Girl understood that I would be texting during the night, about once an hour, just to connect.
If I were one of the girls, I'd tell you everything that happened because it's all so hilarious. But the stories are not mine to tell. The evening was slightly edgy. It always feels like the teenagers I know, even the well-adjusted, striving, bright, hard-working, kind, much loved by parents teens, are on the edge of some catastrophe. Boy trouble, the urge to egg a house, girl trouble, overwhelming school stress, parties where peers who aren't as practical break into their parents' booze (no such luck for the kids here).
The kids seem drawn to that edge, and will talk about the almost catastrophes for years. Last night will become legend.
At about 12:15 a.m., the four of them piled back into my tiny house. My girl shooed me out of the kitchen (after I'd dug out the loaf pan she was never going to find). They baked pumpkin bread and a mixed up a no-bake strawberry cheesecake, sprawled on the floor of my little dining nook while the bread baked. They talked. I don't know that they ever stopped talking, even after they went up to my girl's room to "sleep."
I so badly wanted to press my ear up against the wall so that I could here more than, "He... can't believe...it's really awful...he did it again...." But these are not my stories to know, though sometimes the girls hand them to me without worrying about what I'll do with them.
I feel like I am two people, live two lives. No, I don't feel this way. "Feel" is a weak verb. I live two different lives - one with my daughter, one without. Of course I love the one with better. But I need the one without to rest, it's true.
I have no way of ending this since it's ongoing, since the experience is so lovely, I don't want it to end.
12:19 p.m. My Girl is back from Winter Percussion, but Army Girl had to go home, had things to accomplish this morning. Upstairs, my daughter was planning to close her eyes for a while, but her other two friends are still here, and around the shooshing of the space heater, I hear them talking again.
Later, a different group will gather at another boy's house (a boy who is my fake son; his father tells me my girl is his fake daughter).
Oh, you know? I just caught something out of the air and clenched my fist around it. It's a beautiful, almost unfamiliar. Here, in this dreadful little southeast Ohio city where my politics would make me a pariah if I spoke out more (I should, anyway), I am part of a community. It's one of those accidental communities or maybe more an "organic" community. The only thing I have in common with most of the adults I know (except my writer friends) is that we have teenagers.
Lost the thought. Another of the girls is drifting down the stairs.
12:36 p.m. - All of the extra girls have left. My Girl is curled up in her bed, fully dressed.
"Do you want me to wake you up at a certain time?" I asked.
"No. I don't know if I'll even sleep. I might just ... lie here for a while."
I think I'll go do the same in my own comfy bed, maybe read on a book, work through a dreaded application on paper.
Later, it all begins again. But somewhere else.