Haunted at 17

Today is the release of my good friend Nova Ren Suma's new book, 17 & Gone! Look at the gorgeousness!

I've been waiting to read this one for a LONG time. Nova's books always touch me deeply. To celebrate her release, she's been running a series of posts from fellow authors called "Haunted at 17". I've been reading them with great interest, and debating for a couple days, but in the end I couldn't help but join in. For Nova. :)

*****

At 17, I was haunted by change.

I read a website somewhere that lists major causes of life stress--divorce, marriage, moving houses, major job or life change. I hit most of them within a few months when I was 17.

Susan at 17
I've been fascinated, reading all these other posts, at how others documented their experiences, in journals, online. Not surprising, I guess--we are all writers. But I didn't document anything then. I'd had something pretty horrible happen when I was 13, that broke me for a while. (I'm so glad this is not Haunted at 13! I wouldn't be able to do it!) After that I didn't write things down, not for a long time. I kept things in. I kept myself in, private, hidden. Or I let myself out in ways that were still "safe": ballet first, then acting. I didn't want to keep a record of any of it.

But the funny thing is, time helps. By the time I was 17 I was starting to come out of the horribleness. I made real, strong friends in that year, finally, friends I could be open with. My mom was happy again. At the end of my senior year (I was always a grade ahead, so I graduated at 17), I went on a trip to Europe with those friends, and had a great time. My mom and her fiancee moved houses while I was gone, so when I came back it was to a totally different house.

I still have dreams about my childhood house. I wonder sometimes if it's because I didn't say goodbye to it properly.

Anyway. That summer my mom got married again, to a man who's been a better father to me than mine ever was. I was a bridesmaid in their wedding. I started college in the fall, at a good, huge school.

So what was wrong? The change. 

I'd spent all that time coming back. Getting my feet under me, trying to realize that it was okay, that *I* was okay. That my life probably wasn't going to reverse in an instant again like that. I'd built friendships and helped my mom rebuild herself, and managed to get through high school. And now I had to start ALL over. Be an adult, stand on my own.

I had no belief that I could do it. I didn't have a lot of self-confidence, and what I did was fragile, and false.

I didn't know that college would turn out all right, in the end. It did, of course, after a couple years of floundering.

I didn't know that I'd have trouble finding a job after, but it'd be okay.

I didn't know that I'd meet my husband 5 years later, move in with him in 3 months, get engaged 3 months after that, we were so SURE. Or that we'd still be married 20 years later, with a beautiful, smart 11-year-old daughter.

I didn't know I'd be a writer.

I didn't know any of that, because that's the point of being 17. It's all uncertainty, and fear, and hope, and dreams. And change.