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Without Warning

As told to Leah Greenburg

Sometimes it’s the not knowing that’s most disturbing.

And don’t tell me to talk it out, like everyone else in my life has been advising me. What could she say that would make me feel better? “I just don’t like you anymore”? “You were too much, I needed other friends”?

Even if she says “I’m sorry,” there’s always going to be a “but…” And I just feel so vulnerable and hurt, I can’t imagine it would make me feel better.

Telling her that I want to talk about it makes me feel like I’m begging for her friendship and I’m just not going to do that.

Am I getting ahead of myself? Well, then let me fill you in.

For a start: My family’s nuts! Not in a bad way, I guess — just I’m the oldest of nine kids and there’s always a ton of noise and mess going on. My parents are very relaxed and not particularly organized, and besides us kids squabbling constantly, I suppose my house is generally happy.

At least that’s what Malki said when she first visited one Shabbos, four years ago. She kept looking around, while I squirmed with embarrassment and tried to pull her away from the chaos to the relative quiet of the fortress that is my bedroom. But her eyes were glowing. “This is beautiful!” she kept saying. “Like a real family! There’s so much noise and fun and stuff going on…” She wanted to sit in the middle of things, read to my younger sisters, crack jokes with my younger brothers, and talk to my mom.

I did not like it one bit.

In fact, I quite liked her quiet little apartment where everything was in an order, neat and tidy. She shared a room with her younger sister, but they got along nicely and were super close. Her mom was a single parent, her father had died when she was five.

On day, when I finally got Malki to myself, she told me, “I love your family, I love your house. This is exactly what I hope to have when I get married and have a family myself. Lots of kids, lots of noise, lots of mess.”

Even though much of the time I just wanted peace and quiet, I suppose it made me feel good that I had something enviable. It helped me appreciate what I had. My mother always told me that one day all of us kids will be grown, and we’ll likely be the best of friends. It’s not something I could really imagine, but it sounded wonderful that the chaos wouldn’t last forever.

Anyhow, back to Malki: She was really sweet, a good listener and she seemed to like me as much as I liked her. (Excerpted from Teen Pages, Issue 738)


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