“Tell me one more time why are we traveling by bus?” Adrianne asks me, putting her bag on the top shelf.
“Because we’re truly trying to experience the summer,” I answer, taking out my notepad and a pencil.
“Experience the summer? On a shitty bus!?”
“Yeah. The road, people, heat. C’mon, don’t be a snob. Or at least don’t show it so much.”
“Couldn’t you really persuade your dad to lend you the car?”
“Nope. I ... couldn’t.” I say, not looking at her at all, just trying to draw. Anything. She sits in her place.
“I really dreamed of riding in your parents’ convertible along the ocean road. That’s the summer experience!” she says, and I feel a bit awful: the truth is I’m not feeling very confident behind the wheel of that car yet. I haven’t had my license long enough to be comfortable driving it. I only got my license at all because my parents wanted me to have it. I don’t want to drive any car on such a long trip. I didn’t really ask my father about the car. I feared he might have agreed. I didn’t want to give this idea any chance to happen ... and now I had to lie about it to Adrianne. Good she didn’t inquire why I didn’t want to go by plane (I don’t like flying either. yeah, I’m a chicken.). Good thing her parents didn’t give her one of their cars.
“It cannot go bad. It just can’t! It has to be the best vacation there can be, really!”
“Easy Adrianne. You pin too much hope on this. Just ... calm down. Embrace it.” I say, drawing (yet I’m myself pretty afraid of going without any supervision for the first time. It’s very serious for me, yet I don’t want to look like a big geeky chicken who missed all the fun. Which is actually true).
“Too much? Emma! Everything depends on it. You’re whole life’s gonna look like your first experiences.”
“What!?” I snort, “It depends on ... what? How your vacation will go? What’s the problem here?”
“Yeah! That’s actually the worst, to be bad at things that are sooo easy and fun for everyone. It’s our last call.”
“It’s our first call.” I try to calm her down Yet, sadly, I get what she’s talking about.
“Last call to get good at it. You know quite well, everybody is way ahead of us when it comes to stupid partying.” she says with a pitiful expression.
“And that’s what’s troubling you so much?”
“Yeah! You know who doesn’t party?”
“We still have time,” I respond. Although I get her, I’m a bit concerned about her latest need for partying like no tomorrow and going wild. It clashes with my tendency to avoid standing out and hanging out with the most popular people because it feels as if they always have some ulterior motive toward me, whatever they do. Hope we’ll find some middle ground.
“I hate buses.” She looks around, trying to set the seat right, “I’m just saying ... people are lucky. Party people are. Why learn anything if you’re not lucky at all? You have to be a bit lucky in your life. Then you can even be stupid! Otherwise, meh. And that’s not even such a problem to be lucky; a lot of people are lucky. Being unlucky is more like winning some kind of ... anti-lottery. A really shitty ticket. And I’m scared all this hard work is worthless if I cannot ... you know? Live. If you cannot get crazy, what’s the point of anything? I worked hard in school. Now I wanna get crazy. With no consequences. Like most of the cool people. Sorry, but everybody needs this. How can you walk through life with not one crazy thing done successfully?” She’s still trying to adjust the seat. “After all, most people do a lot of stupid shit and get away with it. You have to be a bit of a loser to have bad luck. Even people who, I think, are losers do crazy things and go with it, just like that.” She snaps her fingers.
“That’s absurd. You think you have no luck? Look at your life! Or mine! We have everything.”
“Yeah, yeah. But, you know, it’s not about the money or ... it’s just this ... if you’re unlucky, you just are. Nothing will help you.”
“Not if you’re not helping your luck.”
“Besides, they gave me everything, so what can I know? Even children of rich parents sometimes can be, you know...” She crinkles her nose and waves her hand flat; she doesn’t want to say it: geeky, nerdy; doesn’t want to say the magic words that maybe describe us so well.
“Like we need to prove ourselves?”
“Don’t you think proving ourselves ... on a vacation, at partying...” I wave my hands, “Isn’t this a definition of being a spoiled teenager?”
“But it’s not only that. It’s more about ... spending our time without parents, alone, away from our homes. I’m pissed at myself for being such a, you know, a freakin’ coward!”
“Really??” I feel a bit of relief she said it straightforward, “Actually, I have the same problem. This was driving me crazy.”
She points at me, big blue eyes, “You see!”
“Yeah. Good to know I’m not alone” I giggle, “Okay, so ... no fear?”
“No fear.” She stretches in her seat.
“Or maybe moderate fear?”
“Shut up.” Now she giggles.
That fear of not having enough luck in life—Adrianne has been a bit obsessed with it lately. You prove to yourself who you are, your first experiences define you, or better said, tell you who you really are, what you are made of; and if they indicate you’re a loser. It’s hard to change course. You try and fail, getting only deeper into the determined tracks. And then it’s over. Beginnings are important; first memories stay with you forever. Somehow this theory speaks to me, while at the same time giving me some kind of a terror. So what now-unlucky people will be great at what they do in their later lives? There will always be this stingy feeling in them that they were losers: once a loser always a loser. They are ‘marked’. And when they were doing whatever they were, other dudes had the time of their lives.
This is the philosophy of a girl who was raised to be perfect, in everything: smart, ambitious, well mannered, beautiful. That’s how rich and sophisticated parents raise their daughters. Turns out it’s also pretty crazy. She likes to know everything before she starts doing it. The idea of being a rookie in the midst of veterans is her personal nightmare. And I know all of this because ... we’re not that different. In fact, I was raised exactly the same way. First I thought this view on life was simply awful, but it stuck in my head too and has been bothering me ever since.
“What’s that?” She asks me, looking at my notepad.
“Nothing.” I hide the drawing—I don’t like to show my sketches—instead I show my tongue to her. She, in response, shows hers—that’s our little thing, that has been going on for a few days; and that’s because before our trip Adrianne convinced me to pierce my tongue. That was three weeks earlier. It’s OK now, but for some time I was scared we would end up with swollen tongues all summer. It was just after my eighteenth birthday, so I told my parents it was kind of a present for myself; they gave up giving me lessons this time. And Adrianne had had her birthday a month earlier.
Just before our trip, my parents’ friends saw the piercing when we were talking. They were a bit baffled, tried to act cool, which amused me in return. “Well, uh ... I see you have a ... new look ... definitely very ... modern.” They knew me as a kid who had never rebelled, rather a very promising offspring; so this little thing in my tongue freaked them a bit, but youth has its rights, no?
Adrianne also convinced me to do other things.
A month ago she came to my house.
“I’ve got pills for us,” she said happily.
“For our trip. Just in case.” A happy, naughty expression; my concerns were rising.
“My doctor also gave me a prescription for you, and she just said to me ‘have a nice vacation’, smiling, heh.” She winked at me. She was talking about our mutual gynecologist.
“You told her about it!? That we’re going on a vacation. And we need ... birth-control pills? You did it!? Jeez, Adrianne...” I shook my head.
“Yeeesss. Kind of.” She was so happy because of her naughty deed. She was doing these little jumps, standing in one place, tits jiggling a bit. It made me smile.
“This trip’s making me crazy happy. I can pull off anything,” she added.
“I see;” I stifled my laughter. “And how do you imagine this? Pills? no connnd... ?”
“I hate them.” she said, (“Me too”, went through my mind), “if something’s gonna happen, I want to have fuuun. I think ... just screw it! What the hell! You have to be really unlucky. You know.” She threw up her hands and puckered her lips.
“Probably.” I was staring at the box. “But I don’t think I’m gonna need them.” (In my opinion having a summer fling is just another fad. And young girls like us are prone to hang out with dickheads, so better avoid it, but I wasn’t going to persuade her into or out of anything.)
“Oh, c’mon. Maybe they’ll come in handy? Don’t you miss sex? It’s been ... what? Half a year? After you two ... split up? And no sex since.”
“There wasn’t much sex then either.” I smiled, blushing, and she cocked her eyebrow suspiciously. “Maybe it’s just not for me?”
.... There is more of this story ...