Sorry for the little pause in publishing. This is a pivotal moment for the relationship between Julie and her mother. It's also an important growing up moment for her.
My life so far, Episode 11: Volleyball with friends
Letters : 9015 Words : 1747
Finally, the volleyball match. Not much to say, but it introduces something my daughter wanted to put in the story: the rules of cool. We get to see Julie trying to figure out what it means to be cool. Some foreshadowing for like, episodes 120 or something, and for episodes 13 and 14.
After supper, we went to the volleyball court.
What, you want to hear about supper? About how they were the best ribs I ever ate, since it's the only time I ever ate Clara's ribs and while my mother got the recipe, she was just short of being perfect when cooking them?
You wish to hear how jealous I was that Mindy was able to come back all radiant and positive after the frustration she felt about her plans, our plans, no, her plans were ruined?
Well, she's like that. She exploded, and 30 minutes later, is back to normal. I wish I was like that, instead of letting the anger fester in me, and boil me from the inside until it reaches the surface and can take days to cool down. Well, she is built that way, and I am built my way.
Over time, I learned to accept it, and even love my way, so I can keep the anger inside while I can't express it, and even learned to process it properly, so I don't explode.
Mindy is quick to anger, and quick to cool down, so she has trouble in some relationships because of that. I can postpone my anger until I learn to process and defuse it.
You'd like to get the joke that my father told that everyone laughed in which Clara said she even peed a little, even if it wasn't true? Well, I forgot it over the years.
Should I even talk about how much of a messy eater I was and the comments my mother made about how it felt like I had taken a dip in the sauce? Or Mindy's comments on how much I ate, which hurt me and after repeated comments from various people around me gave me an eating disorder, which was the root cause for my desire to be vegan at some point until I was too weak to concentrate on my classes because I didn't do it right?
Why would I even tell you all about that? Fine. I was underweight, and while I binge ate some food, I usually under-ate most of the week, rarely finishing my lunches, and often only eating half of my plate at supper. There. Are you happy?
I don't even know why I am so angry right now, as I am writing this. Wait. I do. It's not against you. I just have memories of the consequences for me, that the volleyball game had and it's affecting my writing.
I am human after all. I didn't only have emotions when I was 12, I still have them as a writer. I don't tell you everything, you know? I didn't tell you how weird it was to accidentally see my father pee in a bush while at the creek, or how confused I was that we were following a creek, to get to THE creek. In fact, I was too shy to even ask why this little basin was called "The creek" when it's more obviously a basin, or a clearing, or a valley. Anything but a creek!
Right, you can't see me sigh. There I sighed.
I took a shower outdoors, and we went to the volleyball court.
To Mindy and my surprise, the other families were Anna and Robert, a nice couple, and Lisa and Jake, their friends, as well as their kids, Lucy and Clark!
Mindy did a scene for risking to miss Lucy and Clark to play a stupid volleyball game when it was with them!
We split into families, and stuck with that division, even if it was clear, we were the weaker team.
Not by a lot, it wasn't a landslide, but Robert and his son, Clark, were dominant and Lucy, of course, was the best with the services and a wizard at blocking. Lisa and Anna, the mothers, were quite good and Lisa even did a few devastating smashes.
Peter was our best player, but to my utter shock, he was almost tied by our second best, my mom! She ruled. She even bantered and talked trash about the opponents. Acting like a captain, she placed Mindy and I in our best positions, me in the back left and Mindy on the back right.
My dad was surprisingly bad, and missed quite a few shots.
Mindy and I, well, were 12. We did our best, but seriously, it's also a matter of how much weight and strength you can put in the ball.
Yet, the one thing we did right, I mean, both teams, is the complete and utter lack of competitive mood. We didn't keep score, and even my mother's trash talk was mild and mostly funny. She did tell my dad to stop looking at the ladies and focus on the ball, but I don't think he was. Why did she talk trash to my father?
Because we alternated sides and suddenly, our team was better. Not enough to impose ourselves, but now, Lisa and Robert had trouble with the ball.
So, the sun was low, and below the wooden fence around the resort, so that in some places, a sun ray fell on the court and blinded people in some positions.
First my father, and later Lisa and Robert, which had Anna, Robert's wife, laughing.
We took a break, during which Robert and Peter gave Mindy some tricks with intercepting the ball, while Lucy took me aside and taught me, one on one, her tricks to do a service.
I could see Mindy stealing looks my way, jealous of the attention I was getting, but honestly? At 12 years old, I felt picked by the Gods. At that moment, Lucy was everything I wanted to be, I even bleached my hair when I was 16, or the age she was then, with, well, disastrous results. I'll spare you the details, but it needed an emergency hair stylist appointment.
When I felt I knew enough, I asked Lucy if she would teach Mindy, and she casually said. "Sure, Ji", passing her hand in my hair. No one dared to touch my hair like that, but I could let Lucy do it all day.
If you think Mindy was happy when Lucy tapped on her shoulder to switch, you are understating it. She was exploding with joy!
My dad joined Peter and Robert when it was their time to tutor, but I saw my mother and Anna laughing on the side. It felt like they were having the time of their life.
When the sun was low enough, Clara went to turn on the spotlights and under them, we played some more, when both Mindy and I were playing much better.
Even to this day, I swear that Lucy sent us easy passes to let us shine. She even winked at me once.
The adults decided to go start a campfire, but Lucy and Clark stayed, passing each other the volleyball.
"Weren't they supposed to play pinball with us?", says Mindy, whispering in my ear
"You said they were cool, right? Well, cool people make uncool people wait. That's like, their thing", I replied, from my 12 long years of wisdom.
"So what do we do?", Mindy tells me
"Join them. Pick a side", but I didn't have time to finish to explain, she went directly next to Lucy.
Of course! So I went next to Clark
Lucy was the first to notice me and send me the ball. Clark put himself in position to receive, and told me: "Send it away!"
So I sent it to Mindy, who received it and passed it to Lucy, which prompted congratulations from the older girl, who sent it back to Mindy who passed it to Clark.
I receive his pass and he smashes it to Lucy, who jumps on the sand to bump it to Mindy, who barely sends it up, but Lucy manages to get back and send it our way.
I can hear Lucy tell Mindy. "In couples play, you need to have 3 hits on each side"
I receive and send it a little too high to Clark, who sends a smash to Lucy who misses it.
"The exception ladies, is if the ball on the second hit is so well-placed for an attack, that you can't skip it", he says, and then, high-fives me.
"This, Ji, was your best move all evening. Great work", he said, loud
I thanked him, but in reality, I messed up. I wasn't trying to place it.
Lucy began whispering something to Mindy, who laughed, so he lowered to my ear.
"Kid, when you fail, fail in style like you did, and no one will judge you.", and then, he gently hit me on the shoulder.
I was stunned. He knew I had failed, and he protected me. Who was this guy?
All I know is that I was slowly making my rules of cool in my mind. What it took to be a cool person.
I already said, people wait for you, you wait for no one. The new one was, protect those you care about.
Now, sadly I learned in school that this particular rule was wrong. I even had a painful lesson I don't really care to share, despite everything I am sharing, and everything I am scared that I will have to share in later episodes. Not in the next one, that one is cool, but the two after that.
Anyway, the rule isn't "protect those you care about", it's "protect those who care about you". Notice the difference?
I met what I thought was a cool person, who betrayed me because I thought they cared about me, when all they cared about was that I cared about them and when they realized they could exploit my weakness to further their own goal, they threw me under the bus. They weren't really cool.
But for some mysterious reason, Carter cares about me. No, not in any weird way. He just saw something in me, and liked it.
After volleyball, he took me aside and told me. "Ji, you have good instincts. When you will be older and will have had more experience, use it to understand your instincts and you will go far"
To this day, it is still the best advice anyone gave me that was custom tailored to me.
I smiled, but something must have happened because Mindy was just as smiling as I was, when we were going to the Pinball machine.