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Human Parts
A publication about humanity from Medium: yours, mine, and ours.

Teens

In Human Parts. More on Medium.

This Is Us

Yes, they’re reckless. But they need our tenderness, too.

Closeup of woman’s face with freckles.
Closeup of woman’s face with freckles.

We were trying on our dresses for the wedding, my two future step-daughters, my daughter and I: four females squashed into our family bathroom. All of us were crying. Something was wrong with each of the outfits — shoes too tight, neckline unflattering. My bridal gown has brushed against some shaving cream and bloomed a bit of blue. There we were in the mirror — red-eyed and gorgeous, the toilet and the shower behind us. We caught ourselves, and then the tears tipped over into laughter. “You guys are crazy,” said my future husband. “I’m staying out of there.” This…


My parents wanted to fix my imperfections — but I wanted otherwise

When I was 14, my parents decided I needed a nose job.

I didn’t have one but when I announce this at dinner parties, people ask me to turn right, and then turn left, like I’m posing for a mugshot. They stare at me accusingly as if I don’t actually know what a nose job is. I quickly explain that my parents are the very best people and I agree that my natural nose is unremarkable, but that does nothing to satisfy their curious and shocked expressions. …


At 14, spending time alone with my acting teacher made me feel sweaty, and nervous, and I liked it — until I didn’t

Act I

You tested your mettle of doe’s skin and petals
While kissing the lipless
Who bleed all the sweetness away

In the dream I’m kissing a faceless void. My mouth touches nothing but emptiness. I am 14 and no one has kissed me, so I dream of it, yet my mouth has no memory. But I’m 14, and I’m horny, and I want so much to be kissed. I want to know what another mouth tastes like. My jaw works in a sloppy approximation of kissing toward this void, this empty face. …


On fatherly confusion and worry

During the “satanic panic” of the late ’80s, Oprah warned her viewers of teen listeners of heavy metal being brainwashed into worshipping the devil, and worse, killing themselves on his behalf. Ozzy Osbourne and Iron Maiden found themselves both at the center of lawsuits. My mother, a loyal Oprah viewer and conclusion jumper, frantically told my father about this, who in turn—due to my rather grim demeanor at the time—suspected me of being satanic, which would explain, at least in his mind, my difficulty with girls, household chores, and gym class. Perhaps my morose ways lit the darkness around me.

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