After a March Break week full of chemistry experiments, crafts, cooking, books, games, movies, and library visits I was ready for a bit of time on my own, doing my own activities, at my own pace.
So I set out that Saturday morning for the mall. I love to walk the mall. I love to window shop and really shop. I love to get a fancy cup of tea and maybe a snack. Most of all I love to watch the people moving all around me.
There were other women my age, pushing strollers or chasing children. There were older couples, walking slowly and holding hands. There were couples on dates, families running errands, and there were teenagers. Everywhere.
They moved in packs, each group homogenous within itself but unique from the others.
A group of teen boys – all tall, gangly, plaid shirts, ball caps, jeans and work boots. Country boys.
Two girls, maybe 18 years old – Starbucks in hand, long hair, flawless makeup, blacl leggings, eyebrows on fleek. Instagrammers.
Two guys about 20 years old – athletic pants and jean jackets with embroidered roses, hair up in man-buns, iPhones in hand. Cool guys.
And then I saw a group of girls about 15. All done up, but with different makeup styles, different hair styles, different fashion choices. Their eyes constantly darting from one to another, their heads swivelling as they try to keep up with all the conversations happening as they move down the hall. Keeping a close proximity to one another as they seek reassurance.
I remember that. I remember the year I was 15 getting together every other month with a group of girl friends from summer camp. We visited each other in our home towns and we spent those weekends doing each others’ hair, teaching (or being taught) how to do makeup, trading clothes, talking about boys and periods and parents, and often ending up at the mall.
That was a year of trying things on to see if they fit. Clothes, hairstyles, makeup trends, personas. We looked to each other for acknowledgement that we were funny, or smart, or loved.
I realize now that those teenage girl friendships gave me a solid foundation for relationships in my adult life. We learned to share our insecurities and revel in our accomplishments. We learned to express physical affection beyond our family boundaries as we brushed each other’s hair, applied makeup to faces, held hands while walking, and hugged with abandon. We learned how to console someone in their grief, to fortify someone in their fear, to celebrate with someone in their joy.
We learned how to live.
Long live teenage girls.