Ruby Rosenthal

Adolescence

Do you remember 12?

The start of that

Exploratory period of

Wonder,

Pressing play on

A sweaty,

Prepubescent soundtrack

Featuring

Changing bodies,

That fear of

Waking up and recognizing

Alterations

And modifications

Occurring

Upon your skin

Faster than you wanted,

Faster than you

Thought you needed;

Unsettling emotions,

The kind you just can’t

Understand yet,

But will laugh about

Later;

And first loves —

Those that never really go away —

Curly-haired,

And green-eyed,

And freckled,

Smart,

Almost as smart as you are,

And devastatingly heartbreaking,

But unforgettable,

Like a Fitzgerald novel,

Or your first trip to New York —

Exhilarating,

Fast-paced,

Virginal —

To only be described as

An early adolescent hormone imbalance

Unlike anything

You’ve ever experienced,

And maybe something

You’ll never experience

Again.

And do you remember 14,

First zits,

That also

Never really went away,

Red,

Blotchy,

Tomato-y,

Tired of being

Caked over with

CVS’s finest,

And as revenge

Reappearing in the same spot next week,

In a vicious cycle

Only just now

Coming to a close.

And do you remember

That first need

To be beyond yourself,

Beyond who you’ve always been,

To now extend

Your personality on a broader scale,

More than ever before,

To get people to think you’re

Cool,

Whatever that’s supposed to mean,

And have your first lick into the

Real world,

Where not everyone is your friend,

But anyone can be your enemy.

And do you remember 16,

Hips locked,

Arms bony,

But never bony enough,

Lips bright pink,

But always pink enough,

Hair flat,

Like a stone you’d skip across the ocean,

Eyelids purple and blue,

From eyeshadow,

But sometimes bruises,

Did I fall from heaven,

Because you sure did.

And do you remember 18,

Blouses unbuttoned

Ever so slightly,

Eyelashes fluttering

From across the party —

Your first frat party,

The one you swore

You’d never go to —

Sweaty bodies

Knocking together

With red plastic cups in hand,

Realizing that

Everything you want to do

And everywhere you want to be

Requires you to be 21 or over.

Overhead,

Rap music’s playing,

Nothing’s recognizable,

Looking up to see a blur of

Pot

Being smoked

Like you’re in California

Decked in bell bottoms,

On Haight-Ashbury

In 1972,

And alcohol

Like you’re in Europe

And it’s dinner time,

And boys,

Or men,

As we’re supposed to call them now,

Who’ve finally hit their growth spurts,

But still waiting on their maturity spurts,

Coming along,

And touching you,

Only to

Misrepresent your beauty,

misrepresent your soul.

And do you remember 20?

Your first real boyfriend,

Following you back into your room,

Which welcomes him in,

In all of its clothes-strewn,

Candles-filled,

Incense-smelling,

Glory,

As you begin,

Unzipping,

And unlacing,

Tracing each others’ bodies

For the first time,

Beginning to taste every inch,

Every corner,

Not wanting to forget a thing.

And he laughs

Because neither of you know what you’re doing,

But when he’s finished,

The look in his eye

Is anything but humorous.

And when he lays down next to you,

Holds you tight,

And smiles,

A blur of

Crooked teeth,

Messy curls,

Bright eyes,

The whole world is whole again.

First Date

I’d tell you what my sex hair looks like,

But that’d take all the fun out of later,

Don’t you think?

I’d mention that I think pink is overrated —

Both the teenage store by Victoria’s Secret

And the color my room was painted

Ages six to eleven —

But that the singer,

With the exclamation point instead of an “I”,

Still has my heart.

I’d comment that tea is better than coffee,

That skim milk tops almond,

That Jacob surpasses Edward,

That my left hand writes better than my right,

And that my hair has a mind of its own,

But I’ve tamed her tonight,

So she doesn’t say anything to embarrass you.

I’d sign the unspoken contract;

To pretend to like what you like,

Laugh at your jokes,

Some slightly more offensive than others —

My rabbi and my aunt’s priest have never walked into a bar at the same time —

Answer your swarm of questions,

To be assessed,

Scrutinized,

Judged

On whether or not I am “cool” enough for you.

Do I like the Knicks?

That’s hockey, right?

Do I have a favorite Beatle?

Does Mick Jagger count?

Do I play poker?

Who doesn’t?

I’d order a cheeseburger,

Just to keep the Gone Girl facade in check,

Discuss Quentin Tarantino

For seventeen minutes longer than I’d wish to,

And hold back a sigh of relief when the waiter finally returns with a pitcher of water.

Would you like another glass?

You have no idea how much.

 

Ruby Rosenthal is a first-year student at Stetson University in DeLand, FL studying international relations and creative writing. When she’s not frazzled with courses and deadlines, she loves riding her bike, listening to classic rock music, and experiencing new things.

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