Diaries: Ordinary Teenager

What do teenagers do? Sleep in, watch a lot of movies and TV, and obsess about their appearance and social relationships. Yup.

1/3/81 Today I watched football, washed my hair and returned some overdue books. My hair finally went the way I wanted it to. Then we had a speedy dinner  with Oma and then went to Ordinary People. It’s a really neat movie. It was really good. A mature movie, excellent acting. I really enjoyed it. Bye-bye.

1/4/81 I was asleep ’till 11:00 a.m. so I missed half of the day. I saw the movie Seems Like Old Times for the 2nd time. I think it’s really funny. Then I watched skating. Two people skated separately then got marks together. There were 3 10’s given. One to Dorothy Hamel and someone else. The other two were given to Peggy Flemming & Toller Cranston. Tomorrow we go back to school. Bye-bye.

2/5/81 Teen Club tonight was a learning experience to say the least. At first, I thought my only friend was K. But then I was hiding with D. and he asked me if I hated his guts. I said no, not necessarily. Then I got the surprise of my life, he said he liked me. I wasn’t expecting that. And on the way home I found out that J. doesn’t hate me. Or he did a good job of covering it up, but I think he likes me (normally of course). Bye-bye.

Indeed, ordinary teenager stuff. I remember the February incident. D. is the boy I loved when I was 9. Even though I was all of 13 here, he still made me feel all fluttery and terrified. On this day, we were either playing Sardines, a fun variant of Hide and Go Seek (coincidentally, that my kids learned from their Canadian cousins this month), or Hide and Go Seek in the dark. In Sardines, one person hides and everyone else seeks. When a seeker finds the hider, they hide with him or her, until everyone is squeezed in like sardines and the last person finds everyone.

D. and I were hiding in a supply closet at church. I, true to form, as soon as he entered the closet, stumbled over church decorating supplies in my haste to get deeper into the closet, as far away from him as I could, something that could be mistaken for distaste, but was more like the terror of a mouse when the cat is near. I’m ridiculously overstating it even now.

What’s curious about this is the question of how to use these memories of teenage crushes in my writing of the David book. Being a teenager in 1,000 BCE was not the same as being a teenager now. They were essentially adults. If I had been born then, I probably would’ve been married off at 13, not lazing about thinking about who liked me. Boys were working in the fields since the age of 10 or so, although they didn’t marry until the end of their teenage years or later.

Still, there had to be some of the same emotional immaturity teenagers now have. In my telling of the story of how David came to marry Saul’s daughter Michal, Saul throws a dinner to officially introduce David to the rest of his family. At this point, David has served in the army with Saul and his sons who are of age, but since Saul clears the room when David plays for him, and since any smart king would keep his young daughters away from the army, David has only caught glimpses of the daughters, maybe heard them from out a window, and probably heard servants gossip about them during his years of living in the fortress. Just enough contact to know that Merab is a pill and Michal is intriguing enough that when the offer from the king turns from marrying Merab to marrying Michal, David doesn’t fight quite as hard against it. Here are some snippets in which I try to uncover some teenage romantic angst (David is 18).

Did the king order him to wear the cloak so he’d look marriageable tonight? Or was it a not-so-subtle signal that Saul would try to kill him again if he didn’t cooperate? Knowing the king, it was probably both.

The cloak made all the spots on the tunic stand out, so David wrapped it tightly enough that less than a handbreadth of the tunic was visible. He secured it with his own belt, which was actually Jonathan’s. It looked so disreputable next to the linen, it was a joke: you can dress up a goat, but you can’t invite it to dinner unless it’s dead.

He tugged at the lapel to smooth it against his chest and fingered the embroidery. The sandstorm in his stomach made small, swirling eddies that died down when he breathed deeply. He grabbed his lyre and trudged up the hill to the city proper.

***

Not singing words was odd, but the rest of it was fine with him. Sitting in a corner and playing his lyre was something he could do with his eyes closed, so he did. As usual, joy and peace sunk into his soul while he played. He couldn’t keep silent, so he sang sounds, his voice bending and sliding and adapting to his mood.

He opened his eyes a sliver to gauge whether they were enjoying the music. Michal was watching him through the curtain of her hair, out of the corner of her eyes. His skin went hot and prickly and his throat closed up. Now that he’d caught her looking at him, he couldn’t stop himself from checking to see whether she still was. After the fourth time, he shifted so she wasn’t in his sightline.

***

At breakfast the next day, David stirred his leban. The paleness of the yoghurt and wheat nestled in the warm brown bowl reminded him of Michal, her creamy cloak next to her nutty skin.

Oh, I’m so glad I’m not a teenager anymore. I have one in the house, though, so I’m going through those years again, whether I want to or not.

 

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