As much as I would like to romanticise my teenage years, to look back on them as a mess of illegal substances and sexual exploits, I was awkward and shy for the most part. I remember speaking to my now-best friend, then-new acquaintance, about the first few times we met, and he says I was withdrawn so he couldn’t really gauge anything about me. How and when that changed, for him to now know more or less everything about my life, is a mystery to both of us. My adolescence was not cool, I don’t mind admitting that, but it leads me to the night of the house party. In a way it was my first introduction to what I had always imagined being a teenager would be like.
I was sixteen and it was a friend’s birthday; she was not like me, she knew people outside of our seclusive girls school. More than this, she had a magnetism I envied, because as loud and silly as I would be around those closest to me, I could never act that way around new people, and so the prospect of a party made me nervous. The boy that she liked was coming, and I remember her telling me the first time he’d touched her breasts and it was the most radical thing in the world. In fairness, four and a half years later and I would still receive news of any breast touching with the same kind of wonder and excitement. In my mind, this party might have been my debut into the dark and edgy Brighton underbelly, a way of coming out of my shell.
A few friends and I went together, I remember exactly what I was wearing, this green and black knitted skirt with an Aztec print, purchased when I had first discovered Urban Outfitters. We didn’t drink anything, I wish I had, and we went to that same house we had been a hundred times before. I don’t remember every moment of the night, but I do remember someone throwing onions around the living room and there being pink shampoo all over the bathroom walls. For a little while a few girls from my school and I were locked inside this room with some boys we hadn’t met before, at least I think we were locked in, although I have no clue why this would be the case. I remember standing by the door and explaining to these boys that they needed to get out if they weren’t invited, I had a strong moral compass back then. Aside from this, the only details I can remember come from a photo taken at this exact moment; my side parting was ridiculous and my glasses seemed trite.
The images from this night are so blurred in my mind, a part of me wonders if I was actually drunk and just forgot that part. There were girls from my school doing lines of MD on the upstairs landing, and as much as I had wanted this experience to feel like an episode of Skins, it did not come across that way. I remember my friend stressing out because there were too many people and they were trashing her things; her parents were designers and so every inch of their home had been curated like a piece of modern art, clean lines and white leather. Someone’s boyfriend ended up shouting that there were fireworks going off outside, and as much as this sounds like a stupid plot from a teen movie, it worked, and the crowds of intoxicated teenagers emptied out onto the street.
Her brother came over to help us clean up the place, but there were still a few loiterers outside, even this one guy who started throwing his entire bodyweight against the front door. He was demanding to be let back in, but one girl was stood on the inside with a fire extinguisher put through the letter box, shouting at him to go away. There was an ironing board trashed in the hallway and as my friend stepped into the kitchen, someone threw mushed up banana at her face; I think this is my favourite memory because it was so surreal and for a second none of us knew what was going on.
Months later we found out that her dad had been sat across the road the entire night, and so knew everything that had gone so terribly wrong. To this day we don’t know who it was that punched a hole through her heavy, porcelain sink, nor do we know who tried to turn all the furniture upside down. They were missing a TV remote control for almost a year, and a second house party did not occur.
I wish this story had some kind of moral, or that maybe I kissed a boy or did a line of ket in the toilets, but nothing significant or bad-ass happened. It was indicative of my teenage years, nothing necessarily happy or sad, just things that happened to me. These are the moments I shared with my dearest friends, that we can still laugh about. More than anything, it is important to be reminded that I will always be, in part, that shy sixteen year old, sober at her first house party. I wish I would have known then what I know now, that house parties are better drunk, and even better when you end up passed out on the bathroom floor.