Study Guide for Your Teenage Self

An outline for escape

  1. Hon, just try to avoid
    1. Comparing
      1. Other homes to your home
        1. Born and raised to move around a lot
        2. Family heirlooms to family conflict
      2. Other moms to your mom
        1. Back rubs to “rub some dirt in it”  
        2. Homemade soup to microwave meals  
    2. Allowing yourself to think
      1. It would have been different if you
        1. Had a different mother  
          1. Terrycloth, instead of wire
        2. Had a different father
          1. Protecting, instead of passive
        3. Had been a “better daughter”
          1. You were a kid
          2. You were a kid
          3. You were a kid
    3. Saying
      1. “I’m sorry for being”
        1. My own person
        2. Ambitious
        3. Gay
          1. You must never say this out loud, dear
      2. “Mom, I think you should get help”  
        1. She’ll just keep
          1. Sobbing
            1. In the storage closet
            2. In the kitchenette
            3. At church
  1. You don’t know this yet, but your mom
    1. Is bulimic
      1. Stand outside the bathroom door
        1. Listen
    2. Will always be sad
      1. It doesn’t matter
        1. How good your grades are
        2. How fast you swim
          1. She’ll stop coming to meets if you stop winning
        3. How close you stay to home
    3. May not be straight, herself
      1. Just listen to the things she says to you
        1. “You’re too stupid to realize”
          1. “You’re making a terrible decision” 
        2. “We’re better than those people” 
          1. “Homosexuals get . . .”
            1. “Spat on”
            2. “Fired”
            3. “Assaulted”
        3. “After this, no man will ever marry you”
        4. “How will you ever be happy?”
          1. “How will you get by?”
        5. “You are ruining your life”
        6. “You are disgusting”
        7. “I’m sad to the core”
          1. “I expected so much better of you”
          2. “I expected you to make the right choice”
  1. Here’s the thing: you
    1. Get to choose your family
      1. That teacher who buys you books and clothes
      2. The girl with the red hair from the swim team  
        1. Go talk to her 
      3. The professor you haven’t met yet  
        1. She’ll teach you how to
          1. Write poetry
          2. Open a bank account
          3. Leave home
    2. Deserve to be loved
      1. Don’t roll your eyes
        1. It’s true
    3. Didn’t
      1. Ruin her life
      2. Cause her pain
      3. Break her heart
        1. (On purpose)  
    4. Will die if you stay
  1. When you finally run away, bring
    1. Cash
      1. Everything you have hidden in that box under your bed
      2. Everything in your savings 
    2. Your Social Security card
      1. It’s stashed in her desk
        1. She’ll hold it hostage otherwise 
        2. You can’t get a job without it
    3.  The photographs
      1. You took
        1. Of your family  
          1. At the county fair
          2. On Christmas
          3. At your high school graduation
      2. From before you were born
        1. Your mother
          1. Pregnant
            1. With you 
          2. Throwing her head back to laugh
            1. The same way you do
    4. A winter coat
      1. You won’t be going back

About the Author

Gabe Montesanti

Gabe Montesanti has an MFA from Washington University in St. Louis and teaches creative writing at the Missouri Eastern Correctional Center. Her first book, a roller derby memoir, is represented by Markus Hoffmann and in the final stages of revision.

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