I just came back from a surprise party for my best friend ever, M! For this post I will call her Maroon, because in past posts I gave all my siblings color names and she’s basically my sister. In past posts about my friend Maroon I called her Em or M (I think I talk about her in my post Homecoming and in some others).
Anyway, today is here birthday! She’s seventeen, so old. Her mom and one of our friends organized a surprise party at this Mexican restaurant for her and we decorated out spot with streamers and stuff. It was really fun. Maroon was really surprised and really glad to see all of us.
I never really go to Maroon’s house or see her family, so I had forgotten how different her family is from mine. Her parents are divorced, but they divorced a long time ago when my friend was in second grade. Both of her parents were at the surprise party, which I expected to be weird, but was only slightly weird.
The first odd thing that happened was me and the other friends were decorating and it was just us and Maroon’s dad and little sister. We all ordered water and sodas, but the dad ordered alcohol. Which isn’t weird in itself I guess, but my parents almost never drink. And when they do, it’s only with friends or at some occaison. So I wasn’t expecting Maroon’s dad to drink and found it kind of odd, especially when a large majority of the party was underage.
So that was strange. Maroon’s dad was kind of strange in general, just one of those people that was socially off. He would say things, random things, just to make conversation. And sometimes he’d say these things in the middle of conversations just to include himself in the conversations.
Maroon’s mom and her mom’s boyfriend(?) showed up with Maroon after we had the decorations set up. The mom and dad sat at opposite sides of the table, about as far from each other as they could get. They kind of made conversation with one another, kind of.
The most uncomfortable thing, at least in my perspective, was when Maroon’s dad tried to make conversation with the mom’s boyfriend, Joel. Joel was obviously a lot cooler and better off. He looked kind of like a surfer with long dark hair, a good tan, and a tatoo around his bicep. I spent many of the awkward pauses trying to figure out who Joel was exactly. He might not be Maroon’s mom’s boyfriend. Maybe he was a family friend that happened to be staying at their house. But from the awkward way Maroon’s dad tried to make conversation with him, he seemed like the boyfriend.
Enough about the mysterious dynamics of divorced families. The party was great. Maroon was so surprised we were there she almost cried. We all got her presents that she opened first thing. I got her some makeup she had been meaning to buy and she was super excited about it. Our other friends got her some really good gifts too: a nice purse, a watch, a necklace. Maroon’s parents both got her gift cards.
Her family dynamic is so different from mine. Maybe I was imagining it, or inventing it, but there was this tension in the air. We talking about marching band, about the horse race on tv, but there was an underlying meaning to every word, the questions and suggests weren’t as casual as Maroon’s parents were making it out to be.
I hate divorce. In some cases it’s necessary, but I know too many friends who have been damaged from it. I feel like the adults forget how much they mess up their kids by tearing their family apart. Maroon had to take care of her mom a lot when she was a little kid. She had to witness her mom drunk and jobless more often than she would have liked to as an elementary student. Maroon’s relationship with her older sister was destroyed by the pressure of the kids trying to hold together the family. I can see it in Maroon’s relationship with her younger sister too. What is love between sisters? How are family members supposed to care for one another? Maroon had to figure that out on her own since neither of her parents were in a position to teach her.
I realize I went straight back to talking about divorce. Maybe it’s something I’ll understand and be more sympathetic to as an adult, but from where I am now it just looks selfish, and I have no patience for selfish people.
It seems crazy that by the time it’s Maroon’s birthday again all the friends in my group will know where we are going to college. We’re going to be all over the country. Who knows if we’ll ever see each again? I’ve been friends with Maroon since third grade. I don’t want our friendship to come to a screeching stop after we graduate. I don’t want to lose any of my friends.
But that’ll be a problem for Maroon’s eighteenth birthday.