I've become pretty good friends with walls. I've become friends with couches that hide in the shadows. I've become friends with the back of heads—only daring to study their fronts from a distance. It's not that I'm antisocial or shy or think that I'm too good to socialize with other people. It's not that. It's more that I don't really fit in with these people. I fit in much better with the flowery wallpaper or the sinking couch cushions or the lingering shadows. They understand me, unlike the people that crowd this small room I am currently in.
Like the walls and the couches, I feel more comfortable as an observer, rather than a contributor. I love listening to the interesting stories that people are always sharing. I love watching people's reactions to their surroundings. I love watching their faces light up when they see their friend walk through the front door. It's fascinating, unlike myself.
I am a seventeen-year-old nobody. My mother likes to tell me that I'm special, but her eyes tell me that not even she believes her words. I'm a nobody and I'm fine with it. Honestly.
I wasn't really invited to this party, at Sarah Hymer's house, but I overheard her as she invited a couple people in class and thought I would stop by. I slipped in unnoticed and immediately made my way to the back corner of the house, it seemed to be the most dim. I'm not really sure what people think of me when they see me sitting in this folding chair that I brought from home, all alone, in the darkness of Sarah's house, but something tells me they haven't even noticed my presence. Which is exactly what I want. Again, it's not that I’m antisocial, it's just conversations go better when I don't partake in them.
I scan the room for interesting groups talking about interesting things. A couple girls talk about the homecoming dance coming up and they wonder who is going to ask them. Some guys talk about the football game that just happened tonight and about how big of a dick their coach was at practice this week. Jeremy did a road trip last weekend down to Disneyland. They waited two hours in line for Space Mountain and then right when they got to the front, the ride broke down. They sat there for another thirty minutes before a worker finally came out and offered them vouchers for a free snack at the snack bar and a front of the line pass for when the ride is back up. On his way to get his free funnel cake, he saw Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson walk by. Apparently he had a couple bodyguards with him, even though he was way bigger than they were. It was crazy. Plus, when he went to get his funnel cake, they messed up the order and accidentally put strawberries on top, when he didn't ask for strawberries. So they let him keep it and then gave another one. Two free funnel cakes! Plus, he didn't tell the workers this, he loves strawberries! It's his favorite fruit. Unfortunately, he spent so much time getting his funnel cakes and stalking The Rock, that he never got to ride Space Mountain.
I don't take these vicarious experiences as a substitute for living my own. No. I've been to Disneyland. A couple times, actually. I rode all the rides, I threw my hands up in the air as the roller coasters plummeted towards the ground, I posed for the Splash Mountain photo, I did it all. But that doesn't mean I can't take others experiences, too. I mean, after all, isn't that the entire point of storytelling, to share stories? To share lives?
There are so many experiences to be heard at Sarah's tonight, so many lives to be shared, so many lessons to be learned. I scan the room some more, looking for more experiences I can gather. The room is very loud with storytelling. That's another reason I glue myself to the walls at parties like this. There is so much going on, I don't want to restrict myself to just one group. To just want one thing. As I rest my back against this chair, I am able to put myself into any situation I desire. Place myself within any group.
This guy Robert from my algebra class has been hitting on this blonde girl that I don't recognize for a while now. She's starting to look uncomfortable, she's looking around for the friend that she came with, but she isn't in the room. Maybe she's in the kitchen getting a drink. Or maybe with Albert, I saw her talking to Albert earlier. They were bonding over the fact that their parents both rode horses as kids, weird thing to bond over, but I guess a bond is a bond. I should probably walk over and get her out of the situation. I slide my chair along the wall towards the corner of the room they are in. She's resting her back against the wall and he is leaning in towards her, with his hand against the wall beside her head to help him balance. But also to trap her in. They are really close to the corner, so I'm only a couple feet away from them, but I'm not sure they see me. No matter how close I get, nobody ever seems to see me. I set my chair down and listen in as I think of a way to help.
"Your eyes are seriously so blue, like how are they so blue?" Robert says in a voice I've never heard from him before, it reminds me of this one time when I was surfing down in Hawaii. It was a huge swell, I mentioned that I'm semi-pro, right? If not, I'm semi-pro. Anyway, your eyes are bluer than the ocean was that day, baby."
She laughs an uncomfortable laugh.
"So what do you say we-"
I was leaning in to listen to the conversation and accidentally slipped off my chair, this apparently distracted Robert from his question.
"Can I help you?"
"Oh, uh," I didn't know what to say. "No. I'm okay."
"What are you doing over here, then? Can't you see I'm talking to beautiful..."
"It's Lizzy," the blonde girl, or uh I guess Lizzy, let's out in a sassy tone.
"I know your name, cutie. I just-" Robert doesn't bother finishing his thought to Lizzy. Instead, he turns back to me. "What are you still doing here?"
This is why I don't like getting involved with people and their conversations. Before I was standing here, we were hearing Robert's cool stories about being a professional surfer in Hawaii. Now it's just filled with awkward silences and people staring at me like I'm some weirdo. This is why I stick to walls. This is why I don't intervene. This is why I live in shadows. This is why I don’t speak!
Without saying another word, I pick up my chair and move across the room to a new position. I set my chair down next to one of those plastic trees and scan for new stories. Kelsey is talking about her trip to Europe again. At this point I think I've heard every story she has to tell about Europe. It was mostly just drinking and hooking up with random Europeans.
To Kelsey's left, Amber is complaining about her boyfriend again to her friend Eric. She always seems to be complaining to Eric, I've never seen her complain to anybody else. She talks about how her boyfriend cheated on her again or how he made her pay for their bill at Red Lobster or how he won't even hold her hand in public anymore. Eric always seems to be very supportive. It's sad, though. When Eric isn't busy listening to Amber complain, he is over talking to Andrea about how much he likes Amber and hates seeing her upset. He says he wishes she would see him as more than just a friend to complain to. He says he could be the best boyfriend to her, but she won't give him a chance. Andrea then turns to one of her guy friends and complains about how Eric complains about Amber complaining. Andrea says she is the best girl for Eric, but he won't give her a chance. Yet, somehow, none of them know about how one has feelings for the other. Sometimes I wonder what would happen if one of them just told the other how they felt. Maybe all the complaining would stop. But what do I know? I’m just a boy hanging out by the wall in a chair that he brought from home.
I look down at my watch and see that it is 12:38, I'm sure the party will start winding down soon. Only so much more time for stories. At this time, it is much harder to find anything of substance. Most of the stories are being slurred and make no sense. I fold up my chair and begin to walk around the party, slowly. I hear one guy yelling about how drunk he is, a group of girls yelling "SHOTS, BITCHES," a couple makes out on the couch. Nothing. I hear nothing.
All of a sudden, the front door flings open and a woman, I'm assuming Sarah's mother, yells, "What the fuck is going on in here? Sarah, you sonofa-, get your ass over here." The room quiets down, the couple on the couch stops making out, instead they're just lying there in each other's arms. Honestly, I think that is more awkward than if they just continued to make out. Sarah's mother begins to slither through the room, yelling out Sarah's name. The partygoers slowly slip past Sarah's mother and begin to flood her front yard. I remain in the corner.
"Sarah!....Sarah!!...." Finally Sarah comes running into the room with messy hair and her shorts unbuttoned. A guy comes walking in slowly behind her, slips past her, and speed walks out the front door with his head down.
"Mom, uh, what are you doing here? I thought you weren't coming home until tomorrow night.... Where's Dave?"
I have no idea who Dave is, but that name seems to trigger a reaction from Sarah's mother. The anger drops from her face and is replaced with deep sadness. She sulks down onto the couch that is no longer occupied by the couple, and drops her head into her hands and begins to cry. Sarah comes and sits down next to her mother and puts her arm around her.
"Mom, what happened?" I feel like I shouldn't be here anymore. Yet I can’t convince myself to get up. One more story, I tell myself, just one more.
"He was fucking his fucking secretary!" Yup, I definitely shouldn't be here anymore.
Unnoticed, I walk through the living room and out the front door, as Sarah's mother begins to tell the details of Dave's betrayal. I walk out to the front yard where most of the kids are still waiting for rides home. There are a few groups scattered around the lawn, continuing their loud, drunk conversations. Another group takes claim of the driveway, a couple others share the street. I walk over to the curb in front of the house, open up my chair, and sit down. I sit there for a few minutes and watch as the kids slowly get picked up, one at a time.
Eventually, it is just me sitting alone in the front yard. I turn around to see the lights have gone out in Sarah's house. I stand up, throw the chair over my shoulder, and begin my walk home.