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I’ve always hated parties. Especially big parties with people I know but only to an extent. They’re so loud, and everyone knows someone, and it’s not like those parties you have with your friends where you’re guaranteed a fun time because you all see each other almost on the daily. I’d even prefer to hangout with one friend. Even better, myself. I’d happily stay at home playing video games and eating too many granola bars and watching Probzz on twitch while cleaning my room. An introvert at it’s finest, might I add.
“Do I have to go to this party? I hardly know Shaylee,”
“No,” both of my parents said in an understanding tone. “You don’t have to go, we know you don’t like parties like this.”
“Ugh, but there’s gonna be good food. And good food sounds so..good right now. I guess I’ll go, but dad if I want to go home soon can you drive me home?”
“Sure I can, just let me know,” and with that we were out the house and on the way to Shaylee’s birthday party. With good food.
The Richards and Plaggemeyers have been our close family friends for a little over two years. We love to eat and celebrate together, but I’ve never been close to anyone in either families. Shaylee was a Plaggemeyer, the sister of my brother’s girlfriend, and she turned 17 I think two days ago. Anyways, she was nice and pretty funny, loud, too. Just like everyone else.
Oh goodness. Theres an entire bowl of M&Ms in the middle of the party, just sitting there waiting to be eaten, waiting to be eaten specifically by me. See, this is what I came to this party for. Sorry Shaylee. M&Ms, fruit, pop, pretzels, quite literally heaven.
“HAPPY BIRTHDAY SHAYLEE!!” I said enthusiastically as I slumped down on the couch and ate my cup full of M&Ms. Screw being healthy. M&Ms are worth every carb. “THANKS ELLERY!” Shaylee yelled back in response. More and more people started arriving. Zack and his girlfriend, Olivia, Aaliyah and Trey, Jake and his friends, everyone started showing up. With someone. With a friend. I showed up with my parents. Haha, we love that.
“PIZZA IS HEERREE!!” Mr. Richards announced as he walked in carrying a tower of even more heaven stuffed in boxes. He laid them all on the counter, and then all the organizational moms swept in and made the pizza boxes look ‘pretty’. We all prayed, and then feasted. I grabbed my pizza and looked around. All the kids and their friends were sitting at a table, a full table with no spots left. Next to me was an empty table that nobody was sitting at and it was all that was left. I sat down all alone and started eating, watching the basketball game on the TV.
“Ellery come sit with us,” Shawn said as she walked by.
“There’s no room.”
“Psh, we can make room. BOYS, go to that table and give Ellery some space to sit here with the girls.”
Jake, Teddy, and their friend all moved to where I was sitting and I sat with all the girls. It was nice, being invited. Eating alone seemed so sad. This couldn’t be worse, right?
“Dude Megan, stop chewing like that,” Sam said
“Yeah geez Megan, stAwp,” Shawn followed up.
“Shawn, stop talking like that. It’s weird,” Sam looked over at Shawn
Shawn started cracking up.
“Geez Shawn stop laughing like that it’s disrespectful,” Shaylee said in a voice as serious as she could possibly make it.
“Okay, fine,” Shawn only laughed more.
“Ew, Shawn, why’d you say ‘Okay’ like that?”
At this point they were all just roasting Shawn and none of them could stop laughing. Here comes my favorite act: fake laughing. Hint: I’m terrible at fake laughing but nobody seems to notice so maybe I’m okay at it. I tried jumping in to say something funny but they all just talked louder.
“I’m gonna go get some salad,” I got up and got salad. Pouring ranch over it, I grimaced as I added waaayyy too much ranch. So much for salad. I could just..yaknow, add more salad to balance it out, but I wasn’t that hungry. So I went to get a small piece of pizza, but unironically all the pizza was gone. I looked over at my dad, ready to go home, but he was in a deep conversation with Joe, Shaylee’s dad.
“Hey, hey dad, you think I’m a pretty good driver, right?” I went right up to his ear.
“Uh, yes, why?”
“You could stay here and I could just, you know, take the keys and drive myself home. Nobody, cops and all, would ever notice.”
“Ha. Ha. Ha. Very funny, and nice try,” he started laughing at my escape attempt.
“At least I tried,” I smiled and walked back to my seat.
“Shaylee, can you get the two cakes out?” Mrs. Plaggemeyer asked. Shaylee pulled out two massive gorgeous cakes. Lord help me why can’t I be hungry right about now? I shouldn’t have had so much pizza. That cake looks so good but I think if I eat a single bite I’ll combust. No cake for me, despite how delicious it looks, I know my limits. My saddening, cakeless, depressing, still cakeless, limits.
Looking around observing everyone, I realize how everyone here has a friend, a place, a slice of cake. And I don’t. That thought started building up in my mind. Do they not like me? Maybe I should just be louder and more crazy. Last time I did that I fit in for a little bit and then they all just got annoyed. I don’t want to annoy them. Maybe being quiet is better? Not being at this place at all would be better. This is why I hate parties, they fill my head with nasty thoughts like the thought that I’m not worth anyone’s time and I wonder if I’ll ever find good super close friends, like the friends everyone else has here. Am I really this alone?
My dad is eating his cake, and I check with him. He said that when he’s done we can head out. Sooner than later, he finishes his cake and we get in the van after I say bye to everyone, and we quietly sit through the five minute drive home. I’m driving of course, because I’m a pro. We get home and I walk inside to the faces of Noah, Ethan, and Reagan. Ethan is my brother and Reagan is his girlfriend. Noah is pretty much my brother, we treat each other like siblings anyway.
“Ew, what are you doing here?” Noah says disgustingly.
“Walking into my house to see your face isn’t exactly pleasant, Noah.” I say, and he starts laughing. I go to grab a donut from the box my grandma dropped off earlier today but it’s empty. And I know who did it.
“Ethan, Noah, how many donuts did you each have?” Noah had three and Ethan had two. Dang. I’d only had one, and a donut is exactly what I needed. Despite how small of an issue that is, to me it seems so much larger in the moment. Nothing is going right. There should’ve been at least three donuts left. I flick Noah’s hat off his head and he spins around and grabs me, trying to tackle me in a fun way but I push back, and he ends up pushing me accidentally into my dogs water bowl, sending water spilling across the kitchen floor.
“Geez Ellery look what you did!” Noah quickly ran out of the house, and Ethan and Reagan followed since it was getting late anyway. My dad had left earlier to go back to the party. I turned around to stare at the mess I now had to clean. Great. And I have homework.
Once the house was empty, quiet, and I was all alone, cleaning up the mess Noah and I had made, I let angry and sad tears fall as I realized how alone and friendless I was in the moment, and I was letting that thought tear me apart and build me up over and over again, until I was nothing but a lost and confused mess.
I finish cleaning up the mess and not long after I jump in the shower. As I’m standing there gathering my thoughts, I realize something. maybe it’s not so bad that I hate parties, heck maybe I don’t even hate parties. It’s just that I don’t like being alone within a crowd and I’m not comfortable on my own, and that’s all it is. Being able to be okay and happy with being alone in the midst of people who aren’t alone is perhaps the most powerful thing you can do, and I need to learn how to achieve that. I’m not alone. I’m just dependent on other people to make me know that I’m never alone. And that can be fixed.
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