I went to bed with a new outlook on life. In the memory of my father (however poor and unimpressed that memory was), I had resolved that I was going to be more fun. I wasn’t going to run a freaking retail store. I wasn’t going to try to appease my stick in the mud mother. I was going to the things that I wanted to do. That’s what life was all about, right? Having fun? Making yourself happy? I think that’s what the philosophers say, B. Life’s temporary pleasures.
My father and I had varying ideas of fun—his usually involved talking to my teddy bear, Samuel, while mine was far more closely linked to partying to being surrounded by thumping music. But it was the essence of the directive that counts, right? I was having fun in my own way. And I certainly wasn’t going to spend all day talking to Samuel.
With this new outlook in mind, I woke up the next morning and began my day.
Janie: “Making a salad, oh yeah.”
Janie: “Eating my salad for breakfast, uh huh.”
Not the most “fun” start to my day, but no one could expect me to change entirely. There’s no way I was going to give up my figure just because my dead father would have found the breakfast boring.
Jane: “Good morning, disappointment.”
I had hoped that, after a sleep, my mother would revise her opinion of me. Or at least consider that she didn’t know all of the story. After all, in my opinion, I was being quite mature. Despite the fact that I had hated my father, I was trying to honor him in his death. And I was working towards feeling less guilty about the fact that I still hated him—that was a kind of self-awareness that she should be proud of, dammit!
I worked out my frustrations on a punching bag.
Janie: “I. AM. NOT. IMMATURE.”
Janie: “I. AM. NOT. A. DISAPPOINTMENT.”
Janie: “Ah. Much calmer.”
Usually, I would be more swayed by mother’s opinion. But her hot-and-cold routine she’d been playing with me lately did not sit well. She was meant to be my best friend. And, I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, a mother’s whole goal in motherhood should be to make her child’s life as easy and happy as possible. That’s what I did for you, isn’t it B? Exactly. My mother should have afforded me the same regard.
With my breakfast eaten and a strong feeling of confidence from a great workout, I headed to the first stop along my new life path: the great venue Candy had shown me.
Janie: “Yes. The perfect place to start my new lifestyle.”
I found out through a little asking around that the venue was called “Break Down.” Creator knows why, but it fit. Especially with it looking like it did right now—full of party people and DJs and people getting drunk on top of their drunkenness from the night before.
Janie: “How long has this party been going on?”
Nancy: “Still going strong from two nights ago!”
Wow. Candy was right. This was my kind of place, and these were my kind of people. They could party for days. And that was what I should aspire to—being able to party for days. If that wasn’t fun, what was? Not to mention, it would earn me the same looks that I’ve been striving after for a while—those looks of envy and awe and admiration. There were very few people in this life that could keep a party going for days. But I would be one of the people who could.
Janie: “Yeah, Nancy! Get down!”
Janie: “Hey there, friend! How long have you been here?”
Damon: “Just a few minutes. And I’m about to leave. I didn’t realize the party was still going on.”
Ew. Lame. Just a rando music-lover—this man was not a party person.
Just then, I received a call from Mama.
She sounded frnatic.
Jane: “You need to come home. Now.”
Jane: “Janie! You’re here!”
She walked up and embraced me. I hugged her back, but was confused. Did she call me a disappointment just this morning?
Jane: “You are. You definitely are.”
Janie: “So why am I here? I was busy.”
Jane: “You’re still my daughter, and I’m feeling this pain in my chest, so I called you. I didn’t want to be alone, in case something’s wrong.”
Ugh. What? Did she really just call me because she was having some old person problem? It was probably nothing. And why on earth would I want to stay with her anyway, when she was so openly disapproving about my following what my father would have wanted?
She left the room, going to sit down. But I stayed in the workout room, trying to calm myself down.
Janie: “Calm down, Janie. Just settle.”
Janie: “Yes. Just listen to the music.”
When I felt slightly less like I might hunt my mother down and punch her in the face, I left. I didn’t tell Mama where I was going or that I was leaving—I just headed out the front door. And then, with a sort of finality, I turned my phone off. Sure, my friends wouldn’t be able to contact me, but I could find them other ways. And the most important thing was that my mother couldn’t ruin my night.
I didn’t go to Break Down this time—the party from the morning was probably still going strong, but I wanted to be around my usual crowd. My friends were far more likely to appear at our usual nightclub in Windenburg than at the strange new nightclub at the top of a tree.
Janie: “Yeah. Let’s do this.”
So, I was a little tired. It had taken a while, just standing in the gym room and listening to the radio, to calm down after all. And all those emotions were not a good way to feel energized, you know? But there was no way I was going to let that stop me. I was not going back to the house tonight.
Janie: “Yes! This is the life!”
Janie: “I feel so much better now!”
Janie: “What even made me upset in the first place? I can hardly remember her name, much less what she said!”
I was in a slight bit of a denial. But, in my mind, it was all for the best. I was making myself feel better. And Mama always stressed that I was important. That my emotions were critical. That what I thought and felt was a number one priority—after all, I was amazing and awesome and perfect. I deserved that consideration from others, certainly, but how could I expect the honor if I didn’t afford it to myself?
Janie: “PARTY PARTY PARTY!”
If only I had known was happening at home.
Jane: “Oh, there’s that pain in my chest again. Probably nothing, but I should call Janie from her room.”