Flashback Friday: The Relationship Without A Label

Flashback Friday is where I post some of my own writing about my life. This story has a little more teen angst than what I usually write, but I hope you’ll like it. This really did happen to me, though I changed the names in the story. Also, I’m re-creating this just from my memory so I might have gotten a few things out of order. But it’s a true story, as best I remember it.  (P.S. If you know me in real life, this is just how I felt as a teenager. I don’t feel this way anymore! I’ve moved on and feel nothing but love and friendship for everyone in this story :)

I open the front door and Sean is standing on my front porch.

“Sean!” I say with a little too much surprise before I can stop myself. I shouldn’t be surprised to see him. We’ve been friends for 2 years, but he rarely comes over to my house, especially alone, because he’s usually with…

And that’s when I see his face.

I have a bad feeling that I know why he’s here. I hope I’m wrong.

He steps into my living room, but he doesn’t say anything at first. From the look on his face, I don’t think he can say anything.

“So, what’s up?” I ask to try and get him to talk.

“We broke up.” He doesn’t have to say who. My best friend. Lauren. They’ve been together for two years. Well, they used to be anyway.

“What happened?”

He shrugs sadly.

Neither of us says anything. I don’t know what to say. I can feel the silence, like it’s walked into the room with folded arms and is glaring at us. We both ignore it.

I can’t figure out why he’s here. Obviously he’s heart-broken, but he has lots of friends. Friends that are guys, friends that he’s closer too. It seems cruel and unfair that he’s here now. I was the one that introduced Lauren to Sean. I told Lauren all about the new kid in my class that I had a crush on. He was tall, maybe a little lanky but not too much. He had blond hair and blue eyes and was so easy to talk to. Lauren, Sean, and I all hung out as a group with a couple other guys a few times before he started asking Lauren out. I knew I should say something. I gathered all the guts I could and decided that I WOULD say something. But what? That I saw him first? She knew that. What sort of claim did I have on him? Lauren didn’t know him any better than I did. Truth was, I knew deep down that no matter what I said, no matter how fair I thought the universe should be, there was nothing I could say that would make him look at me the way he looked at her. So I didn’t say anything and I swallowed my jealousy. Hard. And over time my jealousy melted away until we really were friends.

So why is he here now? The look on his face has a small glimmer of hope in it. That’s when it hits me. Maybe he does have lots of friends, but none of them have been dumped before. I have. He just wants someone that will understand. And I do. I know that there’s nothing else to say about it and I don’t ask any more questions about what happened with Lauren.

“So….Do you want to go do something?” I ask him.

He nods sadly, but I think he smiles a little bit.

We did lots of things together that summer after our freshmen year at college. I think we spent almost every day together. We played video games on his Xbox, which I was terrible at. We blew up fireworks in July which he had waaay too much fun doing. He took me for a ride around his neighborhood in his go-cart. I yelled, “Yzma! Put your hands in the air!” as we flew around the corners. He laughed. I loved that he got my jokes.

In fact, we did a lot of things together that could have been dates. I couldn’t help but wonder if he wanted to date me now. I wanted to date him, but I could see it in his eyes – I was his second choice. It would be so easy to cross that line and be more than friends. But I couldn’t do it. I would always wonder if he had any real feelings for me or if I was just a rebound for him. It felt so unfair. We got along so well and had a lot in common. How would things have been different if I had been his first choice?

Eventually, we came to an unspoken agreement. I wouldn’t let him be alone but I wouldn’t be his rebound girlfriend. And so our non-dating, non-hand-holding relationship without a label continued.

One night, when I was over at his house eating dinner after teaching him how to make cookies the right way (Me: You’re not supposed to melt the butter. SEAN: Why? ME: I don’t know.) when my other friend’s mom came over and saw me sitting next to Sean eating dinner.

“Are you cheating on my son?” She asked. I choked on my food a little, and Sean covered his face with his hands and tried not to laugh (He was doing a terrible job. His face was red and his shoulders were shaking). Her son, Jake, was doing church service in another state for 2 years. And I was most certainly not dating him, though we had been really good friends in high school and I could see where she got that idea…My Gosh, I thought. Don’t I have any normal relationships?

Later that summer, Sean took me for a drive one evening. Every time we went somewhere, he always drove too fast and it gave him a slight bad boy streak that I couldn’t help finding attractive. I’m always teasing him to slow down and he makes a painful show of doing it. It makes me smile and it makes me sad at the same time. He always listens to loud screaming music and I usually let him, but I wanted to listen to something more mellow since the car was now parked on the side of the mountain over-looking the valley. When I ask him to turn it to something else, he did it immediately without putting up a fight. I was surprised because that didn’t seem like him. He sees my surprised look and quickly looks away. Oh. Lauren must of asked him to do that all the time. He doesn’t say it, but I can tell that’s what he’s thinking.

We sit in silence for a while, looking at the great view from the mountain, listening to relaxing music. Then he opens up about Lauren for the first time since he came to my house that first day. He talked about how she inspired him to be a better person. She was a good girl that never did anything wrong. And I’m not.

A knock on the window startles me.

A cop is standing outside of our car. I momentarily panic that we’ve done something wrong when he asks Sean to step out of the car. They talk for a while and then the cop motions for me to roll down my window.

“Are you here of your own free will?” The cop asks me.

“Yes….” What a strange question to ask. He finishes his conversation with Sean and as Sean is getting back in the car, I can hear the cop say, “…and mess around with your girlfriend somewhere else.”

I’m shocked! And indignant! Until I realize that we are sitting alone in his car on a dirt road on the side of the mountain somewhat late at night listening to jazz music. How ironic that we weren’t even so much as holding hands. Maybe I’m more of a good-girl than I thought. Too bad it doesn’t show.

One of the last things we did that summer was something I never thought we would ever do. We went to Lauren’s wedding reception. She got married at 19 and invited both Sean and me.

Sean went back and forth about whether he should go or not. Even the day of the wedding reception, he kept changing his mind while I sat on his living room couch in my dress in case he decided he did want to go.

He’s got his shirt and tie on now and says he’s going to go. I’m not holding my breath.

“No, I really am going. I’ve got to get my keys.” He walks downstairs to his room and I follow with a sigh.

I look around while he searches his messy room for his keys. I stop short in front of a picture on the wall. He’s got pictures of our whole group of friends when we were in high school. Some are individual pictures of each of us and some are group pictures. But he has a picture with just Lauren in it on the wall next to his door. I can feel my jaw drop a little. Why does he still have her picture up? When I got dumped the first thing I did was get a box and fill it with anything and everything that reminded me of him. How are you supposed to get over someone you’re still attached to? Why would Sean want a painful reminder of Lauren everyday? I don’t understand him as much as I thought I did. And I don’t think he’s getting over her.

Sean finds his keys and turns to see me staring at Lauren’s picture.

“I haven’t had a chance to take them down yet,” he says hurriedly. I nod and slowly turn back to look at the picture. He’s lying and he knows he hasn’t fooled me. But I don’t say anything as we walk out the door.

When we get to Lauren’s wedding reception, he starts pacing again. I wait patiently, but when he doesn’t say anything I ask, “Are you coming?”

“I will in a minute. Just give me a minute,” he says as he kicks the grass.

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah. I’ll catch up with you.”

I walk through the gate to Lauren’s back yard where her wedding reception is. I walk through the receiving line and give Lauren’s parents and then Lauren a hug. Her new husband seems nice enough. Then I get some cake from the table. Oh, how I love cake. I would go to a million awkward wedding receptions as long as they had delicious cake.

I sit down at a table on the patio with my cake when I see Sean walk down the receiving line. When he gets to Lauren’s parents, he gets a huge welcome. There’s a big hug from Lauren’s mom and a special introduction to Lauren’s husband. Lauren gives him a big hug, too. They talk for a long time before they let Sean go and the line gets backed up behind him. I don’t know whether that makes him feel better or worse. Probably both. They obviously like him, just not enough. I know the feeling.

Sean sees me and comes to sit next to me on the patio. We don’t say much as we eat and watch people move through the line.

“Things are changing, huh?” he says.

“Yep. They are.” We’re both going back to college soon. Maybe we’ll see each other. Maybe we won’t. But I hope our weird, messed up relationship meant something to him and that he won’t forget me wherever he ends up in life.

Flashback Friday: Halloween Costumes

Flashback Friday is where I post some writing of my life as a younger me.  I have a special Halloween Edition this week of all my Halloween costumes through the years.  Hope you enjoy!

2 years old

I’m 2 1/2 years old in my first Halloween costume as an adorable witch. I love the green paint splotches on my face.  And did I go trick-or-treating with an Easter basket?

6 years old

There isn’t another picture of my Halloween costumes until I’m six years old.  This year, my sister got to be the splotchy green-faced witch and I got to be a pumpkin.  My mom made our costumes.

7 years old

You guys, I was convinced that all my Halloween costumes growing up were horrible, but look how cute I am as a clown!!  My sister, Andrea, makes an adorable Princess.  My talented mom made both of these costumes as well.

8 years old

I think this is where my costumes start to got downhill.  I remember every year panicking at the last minute to get a costume together. I mean, I’m cute as an Indian but why those shoes?  And the weird sweater?  My costume seems to be made of two bandanas and a feather.  Andrea is the cute Princess again and my youngest sister, Kristen, is the pumpkin.  The other girl is my neighbor, Nicole.

9 years old

My sister has the cutest blond curls ever.  And look what an adorable cow she makes!  I think this is one of the only years that I had a store-bought costume.  My, what lots of red lipstick you have, Snow White.


10 years old

Hmm, this Indian costume looks familiar, but it’s been upgraded with a vest.  I like the face paint.  Kristen, the Princess.

When I was 12, I dressed up as Princess Leia (I don’t have a picture of it).  It was 2 days before Halloween and we were desperately trying to get a decent Princess Leia costume together.  We watched The Empire Strikes Back and decided to copy how Leia looks on the planet Hoth by braiding my hair and pinning it to the back of my head while I wore all white, including a heavy, white jacket.

Everyone thought I was a skiier.

But I’ll tell you what, I was warm that year with my winter coat on.  I could have gone trick-or-treating ALL NIGHT while my friends’ toes were falling off.  Take that.


14 years old

My last Halloween costume was when I was 14 and on the verge of being too old to trick-or-treat.  I’m the phantom with no face.  The question I got asked the most was if I was a boy or a girl.  Andrea has an awesome costume of Wednesday from the Addams’ Family and Kristen is a cute witch.  Does that hat look familiar??

So there you have it.  Every picture of every Halloween costume I ever had. Looking back, I remember a general feeling of panic every year at Halloween trying to decide what to be at the last minute and then scrambling to get a costume ready in time.  I think that even if we had gone to the store when I finally decided what I wanted to be, there wouldn’t have been anything left.  My mom was worried that they were just cheap.  Maybe that’s true, but I blame me and my procrastination for all my bad Halloween costumes.

I’m feeling this strange need to go out and buy a real Princess Leia costume and heal some emotional scars :)  Too bad I don’t have long hair anymore.  And this is me vowing that I will not wait until the last minute to buy costumes for my kids! (well, starting next year.  I haven’t gotten their costumes yet this year.  PANIC.).  I want just once in my life to have a kick-butt costume that leaves everyone jealous and in awe that I have carefully planned out.  Nothing can stand in my way!  Not even procrastination!!

What have been some of your costumes through the years?

Happy Halloween!

Flashback Friday: We’re In Paris!

Welcome to another Europe Edition of Flashback Friday.  My husband and I were crazy enough to take an 18-month old on a month-long tour of Europe while I was 4 months pregnant. It was ADVENTUROUS to say the least :) This is from May 2008 – our first day in Paris.

We spent four hours on the train yesterday getting here. We took a train from Bath to London and then from London to Paris. It was a long day of traveling and we were tired. We got to our hotel and thanks to the great map we had of Paris, we didn’t get lost this time. Europe is paved in cobblestones. It’s cute and charming but after walking everywhere on it, my feet are starting to hurt.

Rick Steves picks some cheap hotels with great locations, but they also come with some quirks. Our hotel in Paris is a five minute walk from the Eiffel Tower and right next to a Metro (Subway) stop, a supermarket and a laundromat (by the way, if you call it a “laundromat” in England you will get blank stares. We never figured out what they call them. We finally got communication going by asking where to wash our clothes.). But the hotel also has what Rick Steves calls a “beam-me-up-Scotty” elevator that could barely fit one person and maybe your luggage if you sit on it. We made three trips on it to get all our stuff to our room. Our room is so small that there’s enough room for only one person to walk around the bed and that’s it. My son’s porta-crib barely fits. We managed to wedge it in-between the door and the bed. If you want to leave while he is sleeping you have to do some serious gymnastics. Our room comes with a view of the Eiffel Tower. We can barely see the top of it, but still. It’s a view!

The next day, I was eager to go see the Eiffel Tower which was literally just around the corner. My husband is a lighter sleeper than I am. He didn’t sleep well the night before and he’s tired from the traveling yesterday. Don’t get me wrong, I understand but the EIFFEL TOWER is right outside. I couldn’t sleep anymore if I wanted to. I feel like a little kid at Christmas. I get ready, pack the diaper bag and get my son ready all by myself so he can sleep in. When I’m done, I nag my husband to get up.

“Just let me sleep a little longer,” my husband moans. It’s 10 am now.

“But we’re in Paris! Why don’t you sleep when we’re in Utah with nothing to do?”

I get a moan from him as a response. I wait what seems like forever until I feel like I’m going to go mad waiting in our tiny hotel room to see something I’ve always dreamed about.

“Can you get up now?” I ask him. He doesn’t say anything.

“Come on! We’re young and in Paris! Sleep when you’re dead! Ugh. I’m leaving without you.” No response. I can’t take it anymore. I’m going to see the Eiffel Tower now or die of excitement. I pack up the porta-crib so I can get the stroller out in the hall. He doesn’t take me seriously until I start strapping my son into the stroller.

“Wait! I’ll be ready in 10 minutes, I swear.” If there’s one thing I’ve learned about my husband it’s that he’d need a time machine to get ready in 10 minutes. Most likely, it will take him an hour. I plan to be back at the hotel before he’s done getting ready. I shut the door and leave without him, fuming mad that he slept in for so stinkin’ long. We have a limited amount of time in Paris and I intend to see everything. I’m mad that we wasted half the day when it’s so gorgeous outside. Much warmer here than rainy old London.

I realize as I get outside that I forgot my money and passport. I pause for a second to decide if I should go get them. My pride is more valuable and I leave without them, hoping that I won’t need them.

I cross the street and come to the end of the park, Champ de Mars, right across from the Ecole Militaire with the Eiffel Tower at the other end. The Eiffel Tower is stunning and so much bigger than it looks in pictures. The sky is bright and filled with fluffy white clouds. It’s perfect. All it needs is my husband to share it with. Stupid husband and his stupid sleep.

It’s Sunday and everyone is just lounging around the park and relaxing. I take a leisurely walk with the stroller and admire the gorgeous, clean park. I take out my camera to record it when this lady comes up to me and asks if I speak English. I say yes, happy to help. She shows me a piece of cardboard with lots of writing on it that basically says I should feel sorry for her and give her money or food. Ha ha, wouldn’t you know I’m not even lying to her when I tell her that I don’t have money. She ignores me and points to my camera like it proves I’m rich. Annoyed, I dig in the diaper bag and pull out a smashed Nutri-Grain bar, mad that she’s taking the little food that I brought for my son. She turns and walks away when I give it to her. After that, whenever we were asked if we spoke English, we said no. Which is ironic since they were asking us the question in English.

After she’s gone, I take some video of the Eiffel Tower and the park then start walking again. The park is massive; maybe even a mile long. My son falls asleep from our walk, so I sit down on a bench and bask in the nice breeze. I start eating the smushed sandwich that I brought when someone sits down next to me. It’s odd since there are many empty benches all around the park. I turn to look at them and what do you know – it’s my husband. I’m completely shocked that he found me in the huge park. I can’t help laughing and he’s positively beaming with the accomplishment of finding me.

Thank you random guy for chopping off the top of the EIFFEL TOWER which was the whole point of this picture.

We walk all the way to the Eiffel Tower together and I’m still in awe at just how big it is. There are long lines of people waiting to take the elevator to the top of the tower. Long lines are not good for toddlers and heights are not good for me, so we decided to skip it and just take a million pictures.

We had lunch at a cute cafe next to our hotel and dinner at an American-looking Chinese place. Two American tourists came in to the Chinese place while we were eating. They look like they are back-packing through Europe with their camping gear strung all over their back. We hear them start to argue with the owners about how this is abominable food and they want their money back. The owner says no and the American tourists start to leave, threatening to never come back. The owner says in response that he doesn’t want them to come back and that he hopes they keeps their promise. I love it here. Then the owner comes over to us and asks how the food is. We tell him it’s good. It tastes like regular old American-Chinese to me. I mean, it’s not a five star restaurant or anything, but I can’t figure out what those Americans were complaining about.

See how big it is?! That’s the LEG.

We also took a walk down Rue Cler today, which is an outdoor market. There’s fresh produce, meat, bread and cheese everywhere. There’s a flower shop on one corner and artisan booths selling all kinds of stuff. It’s utterly charming. I notice people pulling a large tote bag that has two wheels and a handle. It looks like luggage, but it’s open at the top and most of them are full of produce, bread and flowers. That’s when I realize there are no plastic bags here. Everyone brings their own tote bad for their groceries. I like watching everyone go about their daily business. Life here seems quant and lovely. I’m a little jealous. Life in the Western US is not nearly as beautiful as it seems here. I try to soak up as much charm as I can to take home with me to Utah before we head back to our hotel for the night.

Flashback Friday: I’m Not in Utah Anymore

Flashback Friday is where I post some writing of my life as a younger me.  This is a continuation of my cross-country road trip to Vermont from Utah that I took when I was 13.  If you want to read about my drive there, read the post “Life is an Endless Highway.”

When we finally got to Vermont, we stayed at my Grandma’s house. She has a cute little house on Lake Champlain and it’s very charming. You know what else cute houses on lakes have? BUGS. Lots of them. This was quite the culture shock for me. Utah is a desert and nothing lives there unless you make it. So to see thousands of little gnats just swarming on the back of her house was unreal to me. Don’t get me wrong. We have bugs in Utah, but between the scorching hot summers, the freezing winters, and no rain, a lot of them don’t survive. These little gnats got into the house and for some reason loved to buzz in my ear as soon as I was about to fall asleep at night. My Grandma didn’t understand my complaint since gnats don’t actually bite or anything and it’s not like we could have kept them all outside. At night, I could hear the far off sound of small buzzing things in the room and my teeth would be on edge just waiting for that moment when the soft buzz suddenly turned into an electric shock of amplified sound. So I slept as best I could with the blanket pulled over my head and tried not to have a heart attack every time one of those darn bugs got in my ear.

My younger sister at the farm with a cute horse.

A trip to Vermont wouldn’t be complete without a trip to a farm. My Grandma lives right next to one and we got to have a little tour of it. We went through a barn that was mostly dark and full of cute little kittens. We saw cows and milking machines and chickens wandering around. And poop. Lots of poop.

We spent a lot of time swimming in lakes. When I mentioned to one of my cousins that I hadn’t really swam in a lake before, they looked at me like I was crazy.

“Don’t they have lakes in Utah? Like the Great Salt Lake?” my cousin asked.

Ew. Swimming in the Great Salt Lake is one of those things that you do once in your lifetime just to say you’ve done it. You go out a little ways and then pretend like you’re sitting in a lawn chair in the water. It feels like you’re defying gravity and all that is normal when you don’t sink. Then a huge wave of salt water crashes on your head, burns you eyes (and other things) and you can’t get the taste of salt out of your mouth. Not to mention all the tiny brine shrimp that get lodged in you swimming suit.

“No,” I replied.  “I don’t really go swimming there.”

Swimming in lakes takes a little getting used to. I was a little freaked out that fish were going to eat my toes or that I might touch something slimy, but it was fun after a while. We swam at Silver Lake and later at a floating bridge that we would jump off of.  I’m serious.  The bridge is made of wood and floats on top of the water.  Cars drive over it and everything.  Vermont is unreal.

At night, there were fireflies. I had never seem fireflies before. And guess what? Their little butts don’t stay lit constantly. There are swarms of fireflies flashing on and off making a little light show, just begging you to try and catch one when you can only see it for a few seconds at a time. One of my cousins smashed one to show me that their guts glow for a little bit after they are dead. How nice of him.

We hiked Mount Mansfield, the tallest mountain in Vermont. I think the mountains here are cute. The look more like hills to me since I’m used to the Rocky Mountains. The Rocky Mountains are only green for a little while in the spring and then they turn to a scorched summer yellow. Like their name, the mountains are mostly rock without much growing on them. Mountains in Vermont are entirely covered in trees and they are green even in the summer. In fact, everything here is green. The highways have trees growing in between each direction so you can’t even see cars going the other way.

I’m on the left, my cousin is on the right. I’m not sure if I’m Ben or Jerry…..

We went to the Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory in Waterbury, but I don’t remember much about it other than the joke props that looked like melted ice cream coming out of bowls or cones that were laying on the floor. I thought they were real at first and I was appalled that an ice cream parlor would have garbage like that lying around. Even when I found out they were fake, I still didn’t want to look at them. I hate ice cream. Especially melted ice cream.

These are the keychains that I bought on our road-trip. See Vermont and Canada?

All along our massive road trip, we stopped at many souvenir shops. I had saved some money to get souvenirs, but I soon realized that even all the money I saved wasn’t going to last long. You’ve got your useless knick-knacks that collect dust and overpriced, ugly t-shirts that I would never wear, but I was determined to buy something at every shop we went to. That led me to the cheap section of the store which was filled with postcards and pens. LAME. Then I saw it. The keychain carousel next to the cash register. Two dollars! And it says the name of wherever we are at! It was the perfect solution. This was the original start of my massive key chain collection that has at least a hundred key chains in it from places that I have been all over the world.

With my new keychains pinned to my mini-backpack, we went to the Morgan Horse farm and I scared more than one horse with my clanging keychains as I walked by.

We went to Canada, just to say that we did. When we got to the Canadian border, my parents just showed their ID and we went on our merry way. Quebec is the province of Canada that borders Vermont, and they speak French there. We wandered around the first city we came to, my dad (who is fluent in French) tried to speak French to the Canadians at the store who insisted on finding someone who could speak English, and then we bought some overpriced stuff. I bought a keychain, of course. After a while, we thought, “Huh. Looks pretty much like America, but they speak French.” And then we went home. I still couldn’t help feeling giddy that we had been to a different country. SO EXCITING.

This is the Gulliver’s Travels books that my Grandpa gave me.

I saw my Grandpa on the trip. I now know that my Grandpa was not that old, but his health had aged him well beyond his 60 years. He had Parkinson’s disease and several other health problems. I tried not to be scared, but I was. It’s not like I was scared of him, but there’s something ominous about old age to young people. My Grandpa had the best book collection. I had never seen so many old books. He heard me admiring his 1919 copy of Gulliver’s Travels and he told me I could have it. I hadn’t meant to ask for it, but he insisted. It pricked at my eyes a little when I realized why he was so willing to give his things away. That trip was the last time I saw him. He died almost a year later.  I still have that book sitting on my shelf.  When I look at it, it feels like a little part of him is still here.

The rest of our trip was filled with non-eventful things like my youngest sister braking her wrist at a park. She got a sock monkey and was a little drugged and woozy when she came back from the hospital. Poor Kristen. I hold the record as the only child not sent to the hospital on a vacation.

I was going to write a lot more about our trip home from Vermont when I realized that it was exactly like the trip there except our trailer was now full of stuff that we were bringing back (a dresser, a shop smith, a bench, a table, etc.). We even had a tire blow up. Yay. See? Same old, same old. We did go see the Hill Cumorah pageant on the way home. They have awesome costumes and they reenact stories from the scriptures. It’s a lot of fun and those speakers could shake cars for MILES.

Then, just imagine yourself staring out the window, dazed and bored. That was the rest of the drive home.

Flashback Friday: I Didn’t Do It

Flashback Friday is where I post some of my original writing of my life as a younger me.  I’m sorry that I don’t have any pictures this week.  Hope you’ll still enjoy it :)  I am about 5 or 6 years old in this story.

Most of my vacations stick pretty well in my memory, but there’s one vacation where I remember more what happened when we got home than what happened on our trip.

We pulled up to our house in either our Dodge Dart or our Colt Vista. I don’t remember which car it was, but those are the two cars from my childhood. My dad had awesome taste in cars. My sister and I bounced out of the car and then jumped up and down impatiently while we waited for them to unlock the front door. As soon as the door was open, we ran in the house while my parents went back to get stuff out of the car. My sister and I ran through all the rooms, but we stopped short when we saw my parents’ room. It was a mess. I couldn’t believe it. I’d never seen my parents’ room a mess. MY room is the one that is always a mess. Delighted, I bounded back outside and yelled the whole way, “Mommy! Daddy! Your room is a mess!”

“What?” my parents say, confused.

“It’s a mess! Come see!”

I’m so excited to show them that I’m not the only one with a messy room that I run in front of them back to their room. I reach their room before them and when they get there, I’m caught off guard by their reaction. I don’t know what reaction I was expecting, but their upset faces was not it. I wanted them to say something like, “You’re right Jessica!” Playful nudge. “We didn’t clean our room this time! I guess you’re not the only one who doesn’t like cleaning their room.”

Instead, they are upset and shocked and my mom starts crying. Now I’m scared that I’m going to get in trouble. They’re going to think I did it because I’m the one that told them about it. In a timid voice, I say, “I didn’t do it.” I can’t tell if they heard me. They’re not paying attention to me. Puzzled, I try to walk in the room to see if I can figure out what’s so upsetting about this but they both firmly and immediately tell me to stay out of their room and then they leave down the hall.

From the hall I look around my parents’ room more closely this time to see if I can figure out what is wrong. But it just looks messy to me. Still puzzled, I walk over to my room, which is kiddy-corner from theirs. My room is covered with clothes and toys all over the floor, and my bed isn’t made. My Little Pony sits next to my foot by the doorway. Same as usual. Slowly, I walk back to the doorway of my parents room. Their bed is made and there are no clothes or toys anywhere, but there are lots and lots of things scattered everywhere on the floor.

I look up and notice that the window is wide open. This is the first thing that I find odd. My dad never lets us open the windows all the way. We can open them a crack in the summer so the cool air from the swamp cooler will come in our rooms. We’re not allowed to open the windows at all in the winter. I wonder why my dad would leave his window wide open. It doesn’t seem like something he would do.

I hear the front door open and a man all dressed in black walks past the end of the hallway. I hide at the end of the hall because I don’t know who he is. I can hear some of my parents’ conversation with him filled with words like “perfume,” “money,” “teenage boys,” and “missing.” I know all of those words but they don’t make sense together. I glance back in my parents room and it dawns on me that maybe some things are missing in there. The bed, nightstands and dresser are all still there. I can’t tell if anything is missing or not. It doesn’t seem like it. Curiosity gets the best of me and I walk down the end of the hall and peek around the corner into the dining room where they are all talking. I arrive in time to hear the man in black say, “I’m sorry. There’s nothing more I can do.” And then he leaves in his white car. Why did my parents call him if he can’t do anything? Do they need help cleaning their room?

My mom’s not as upset anymore and when my mom and dad see me, they tell me that everything is all right and not to worry. I’m comforted at first until I realize that there was something to worry about. They clean up their room carefully and slowly and shut the window. If I took that long cleaning my room, they’d probably get mad at me.

After that, my dad bought these silver locks for all of our windows and we were told to never take them off. Now, every time that we went on vacation, my dad would set up elaborate lights and timers all through the house. He’d stick lamps in the hall and get lots and lots of extension cords. It was a lot of work and I didn’t like helping. Not only that, but I didn’t see why we had to do it in the first place.  I still remember standing outside right before we were going to leave somewhere while my dad tested all the lights and timers.

It’s funny how being an adult makes you see things that you didn’t before.  Looking back on what happened that day makes me sad mostly because of the innocent and self-centered way I saw everything.  It’s a reminder to me that kids just don’t see things the way that we do.