I love humans. It sounds off when I term it that way, a little too careless, a little too pseudo-cutesy, maybe a little disturbing. I can’t very well explain it, but I do.
With them in my days, there’s so much magic. They themselves are not particularly exciting, but then again neither am I. We are all commonplace teenagers walking in tiptoes and laughing about sex and drugs and weekends, elbowing and throwing each other off with swearwords and vocabulary picked up from parents and sitcoms. You could write them off, as is usually done, you could say TEENAGERS! in an I-have-given-up-on-you voice and that would make your point clear.
If you spend as much time with them as I do, however, you come to a different kind of understanding. They are not just TEENAGERS! they are solid, and they are real. There’s a point when their conversations lose the pettiness and become a cappellas. You can hear all sorts of things in the spaces between words, between a period and the next capital letter. There is no one like a teenager, accustomed to insecurity and insincerity, to put meaning into the quiet. They may not be particularly adept at adding common or grammatical sense into their sentences, but last week I saw a boy put a well-meaning hand on a girl’s shoulder and say are you alright? and it made me stand still, for some reason. It made me happy, to see people caring for one another, to see us teenagers picking each other up.
Oh, they are so unlovable most of the time. But they don’t want love. They want cheap thrills, they want to be angry at the world, they want to rage and rebel and raise their screams into the air. Cacophony polyphony. They are a little stupid, a little muddled, a little furious. They slam doors and cheat on exams. They are absolutely high on life, on their wonderlands, and it’s not because they don’t know that once-upon-a-time has an expiration date and soon they’ll be thrown into the ADULT world. Oh, they know, they are all too aware. Naive about it, yes, intensely so. But it doesn’t take away from them, and though there are scientists who would make scans of their brains and point at undeveloped cerebellums, their humanity is fully evolved, and they are never less.
I like watching them, and I take pleasure in knowing they are good people. Not they will be good people, they are good people. It’s not obvious. There is no cruelty like that of a teenager. God, there is an energy and a need for violence stored in their hands that seems unnatural. There is little more horrifying than watching a teenager taking a fist to anything. Violence coupled with babyish notions, with a creature not much more than a child. There is no perfect corruption like that of a teenager. But all are scared, and all are what will be made of them. On Fridays I sit on the bus while the conductor starts up the engine and watch them walk home, backs to me, and I feel this old-fashioned need to bless them, to thank them for everything, for anything, to hope they stay okay, not perfect, just okay: in spite of everything, to love them.