The Good Girl

Junior year is something flashy and fascinating and altogether new. Worlds better than I could have expected.

By now, it’s solidly autumn, and even though I don’t like November, and school is confusing and Dill has effectively deserted me for Jane, I’m having a surprisingly good time.

My schedule is a mix of easy subjects and hard ones, and I have at least one art class every quarter. Each morning, I shuffle sleepily into the art wing to sit across from TS and draw charcoal still-lifes or make sculptures out of clay.

TS is wry and clever and easy-going. She’s the girl I wish I could be. She never gets mad or takes anything too seriously, and she’s kind and funny and sarcastic. She has this hilarious, hardboiled way of talking, like nothing matters and at the same time, like everything matters. She makes even the simplest things seem grim and monumental. She lives life like a noir detective.

At the beginning of sophomore year, we were sort-of/kind-of friends, but I haven’t had a class with her since then and I’ve missed her. Last fall, she was soft-spoken and shy—almost as shy as me—but now she talks easily, reaching across the table to smear glitter on my eyelids or providing a running commentary on X-acto knife safety, and her hair is a bright, outrageous color called “Enchanted Forest.” She hangs out at her older brother’s house parties and smokes behind the school during passing periods.

We laugh a lot and talk about art and music and sociology. She shares her headphones with me and quotes Clerks and Mallrats and My So-Called Life.

She’ll peer into my face sometimes, with a false, doe-eyed earnestness and say, “Why are you like this?”

I always look back at her, shaking my head. “Like what?”

She leans in across the table, so serious. Close to tragic. “Like how you are.”*

I know she’s only saying it to be ironic, but sometimes I think about it anyway. Why am I like this?

But maybe the more pertinent question is, what am I like?

When I picture myself in my head, I’m still the awkward, antisocial girl of last year. The one with hunched shoulders and shaggy bangs, pathologically incapable of having a conversation with anyone she doesn’t already know.

I keep forgetting that’s not me anymore. Intellectually, I understand that I’ve changed, but I don’t know exactly what I’ve changed into.

Little Sister Yovanoff is the only person who seems to have a clearly defined picture of me. She braids my hair into elaborate coronas around my head and does my nails in pastel colors with a silver-shimmer topcoat. She poses me for pictures, moving my shoulders and my hands, adjusting the angle of my head until she’s satisfied with the composition.

My clothes are a weird mix of the ragged and the elegant—thrift-store lace and gray silk and jewelry made from loose pop-tabs and old keys—and I look wistful and surprising in my dad’s work-jeans.

Sometimes, I think I notice boys noticing me—I think I catch them looking, just quickly, just from the corner of my eye. I keep walking and pretend it doesn’t matter, even though it kind of does. Not in an urgent, all-consuming way, but in a way where I never quite know what to do about it.

This new sense of helplessness doesn’t become truly evident, however, until Brody shows up. Because Brody is the kind of boy who never, ever happens to girls like me.

First of all, he’s a senior. But more importantly, he is absolutely everything I’m not—sneering, crass, delinquent, swaggering.

He’s a gallery of various piercings and tattoos, and wears black Chuck Taylors with Damn the Man written in pen on the white rubber soles. He only likes the loudest, most obscure music and has a homemade Dead Milkmen patch safety-pinned to the back of his hoodie. It’s a black marker scrawl on a scrap of white T-shirt that says Dick Is Swell. He’s tall and shockingly bony, but in this way where he makes it seem totally punkrock. Like it’s a choice he’s making.

Even before we had art together, I would catch him watching me in the halls, but not in the quick, furtive way I think I see other boys watching. Brody has never made any attempt to disguise it. He just studies my face with a sly, challenging smile, and once when he was walking with his girlfriend, he stared so long that I couldn’t ignore it anymore. I could feel his eyes moving over my features, and when I finally looked up and met his gaze, he winked at me. He made a mysterious clicking noise with his tongue.

He and TS are friends. They’ve been to each other’s houses and they hang out together outside of school. So he sits with us. Which makes every day an exercise in willpower. A contest, like the ones I used to have with Pierre in Spanish class last year, only now the proceedings have taken on a distinctly flirtatious overtone.

Or sexual. I should probably just say sexual.

For my sculpture, I’ve been making a Christmas ornament, a five-pointed star with an androgynous face in the center, rising out of the clay in bas relief.

“I wish I had your hands,” TS said, watching as I shaped the mouth, the tapering chin. “Then I’d be able paint, and make all kinds of cool shit like you can.”

Brody reached out. “Let me see.”

I held out the star.

“No, let me see your hands.”

I offered him a clay-covered hand, holding very still as he touched my palm, then each finger. He stroked the ball of my thumb, the inside of my wrist.

“I wish I had your hands too,” he said. “But I’d use them for something else.”

He winked at me and I tried not to let my face change.

“Don’t be a dick,” TS said.

I didn’t say anything and he let me go.

In the privacy of my journal, I always think that I’m telling the truth.

I’m not.

I mean, the dialogue and the details, all the things I write down—those are the truth, but nowhere close to the whole truth. I spend every morning sitting in the ceramics room, staring across the table at Brody. I spend every day looking cool and inscrutable, and feeling shaken to pieces inside.


TS and Brody as they appear in the margins of my art binder**

Today [. . .] TS tore the corner off a newspaper in art class and scrawled in her blue pen, shoving the note across the table at me, Brody likes you.

She wrote it to me. About me. About a boy who has checkers on his head, who is brave enough to smoke cigarettes in Wal-Mart. A boy who is a real dick.

I don’t tell Catherine or Little Sister Yovanoff about Brody. The predicament is too mysterious. It seems difficult to explain.

But my reluctance to talk about him doesn’t matter. They find out anyway, because Brody is impossible not to notice. He has combat boots and purple-checkered hair. He has no reservations about walking up to me in the halls and slinging an arm around my shoulders, no compunction about pressing his cheek to mine and saying, “Babe,” (yes, he calls me babe) “Babe, when are we going to hook up?”

Catherine is simultaneously impressed by Brody’s boldness and appalled by his lack of manners. She eyes him with deep ambivalence. As a connoisseur of boys, she feels obligated to give him due consideration, but the results are inconclusive. Her professional opinion is that he’s insanely hot, and also totally disgusting.

Typically, Little Sister Yovanoff does not express an opinion one way or another.

In class, Brody reaches across the table to wind his fingers in my hair or pulls me into his lap and cuddles me like a doll, which is hard to comprehend, because immediate family aside, I’ve really never been hugged all that much. I’m too distant or too pointy or too something. I‘m simply not the kind of person that people want to hug. Brody doesn’t seem to notice. He makes it a habit to kiss me on the cheek when he comes into class, and then again when it’s time to leave.

And the thing is, I let him. Despite the forwardness—the sheer, unrelenting presumptuousness—I don’t really mind. Some days I even sort of encourage him, because the truth is, I kind of like it. I don’t feel like I’m supposed to like it, but I do anyway.

The fact is, his sheer, unfaltering cockiness is attractive, and not only that, but he smells really good, and so I’m deeply torn. And by torn, I mean that my developing boy-crazy side likes standing near him, but everything else—mostly my brain—finds him completely unacceptable.

Despite everything about myself, despite being friends with Irish, and watching Reservoir Dogs constantly, and how impatient and reckless and wild I am outside of school, I have never considered the possibility that I am not a Good Girl.

“Hey, sexy,” Brody said as we stood in the doorway before the bell. “Can I take you to a movie this weekend?”

“You don’t have a car.”

He shrugged. “You can come pick me up.”

“I don’t have a car.”

“TS can drive us, then.”

“Brody,” said TS. “Quit being a dick. You have a $%&@ing girlfriend.”

The truth is, I’m glad that TS can always be depended on to rein him in, and I’m glad that he has a girlfriend. I know beyond any whisper of a doubt that I cannot go anywhere with him. I know this in a way that I can never say out loud to anyone. I cannot date him, not because I’m so impressively good, but because if I were to throw Brody into the mix, I suspect that I might turn out to be very, very bad.


For discussion: Are the bad boys/girls still like this, or are they like something else? How do you feel about them? Is there some kind of irresistible appeal in their confidence, or does it just seem invasive and off-putting?

Or, are you like seventeen-year-old me—reluctantly mesmerized by them, yet deeply convinced that you should know better?

*In case you’re interested, that’s a reference to this. (Youtube link contains moderate kissing, suitable for network TV.)

**By this point in my education, I’ve started drawing hundreds of compulsive little ballpoint scribbles of people I know. All the time. On everything.

35 thoughts on “The Good Girl

  1. I loved the bad kids.
    Fact is, I wanted to *be* a bad kid, but the bad kids didn’t want me as one of them. Not because they didn’t want me, or didn’t like me, but I was “too good” for them. So they didn’t invite me, they just had me around when they weren’t doing their bad stuff.
    In retrospect, this is the greatest thing they ever did for me, because I probably would have been a very, very bad kid. At the time I was furious that they didn’t want me.
    The majority of the group were guys I had known since I was a kid. Their older sibling were best friends with my older siblings and we all just kind of grew up together. Most of them spent summers in rehab. But I loved them.
    One of these guys above the others was Brent. He had wild crazy hair and a forked goatee. He had been sexually harassing me since I was in seventh grade, and I didn’t mid it a bit. He was two years older. I was in 7th – he was in 9th. I was a sophomore – he was the senior… I secretly wanted him and he just liked toying with me.
    He like playing with my hands, and flattering my eyes. He’d take my hand and press it against his chest and tell me how much he adored me while stroking my wrist. How and you not love that as a teenage girl.
    When he was a senior he pinned me in the hall one day and said to me “If anyone asks you’re my girlfriend.” That was it, no explanation, nothing. No one ever asked. He didn’t change anything in our relationship, but somehow, the thought of being Brent’s girlfriend thrilled me to the core. He never actually told me he didn’t need me to be his girlfriend any more. Ever. Maybe I still am.

    • I was never a bad kid either, even though I sometimes forget and think that I was. The other week, I was talking to my sister and she said, “We were really just so good when we were in high school!”

      I said, “No we weren’t,” and proceeded to list a (fairly large) number of untoward incidents.

      She looked at me like I’d lost my mind and said, “Yeah, but we didn’t do any of those things. We were just there while they were happening.”

      So that’s really the overarching motto of my high school career: I was there while it happened

      He never actually told me he didn’t need me to be his girlfriend any more. Ever. Maybe I still am.

      Hahahaha—that is beautiful! And he totally sounds like he could have given Brody a run for his money when it comes to semi-harmless flirtation and general badness.

  2. Brody sounds like my worst nightmare, to be honest. I like to think that if someone had touched me without asking in high school, I’d would have punched him (because when it happened in college, I did). But I don’t know. You know somethings get terrified and can’t run away? That might be me.

    • If any of this had happened to the person I was at fifteen, I think I would have been petrified—maybe even traumatized. (Not to mention, really angry.) I spent most of sophomore year feeling on edge, like someone was going to invade my space and demand that I interact, and then I wouldn’t have any control over it. Also, I deeply resented being forced into things.

      Somehow, though, I turned 17 and it was like this switch got flipped. Suddenly, nothing much bothered me and everything fascinated me, and I think my lack of affect, more than anything, was what opened the door to Brody’s (markedly unsubtle) attention. He took my impassiveness as an invitation, because in a way, it kind of was. Only, we were never working in the same direction. He thought the goal was to crack my facade, where for me, I was just trying to figure myself out.

  3. OMG baby Jared Leto! Baby!!!! Jared!!!! Leto!!!!

    Now that that’s out of the way… you cut this one off VERY UNFAIRLY BRENNA YOVANOFF. I expect you to tell more of this story next week, and if there is no more, make it up, please. For me.

    I think that pretty much sums up my opinion on Brody and high school bad boys.

    • Ah, but you see, I had to cut it off someplace, because whatever situation this is, it persists for TWO. YEARS.

      It does not dwindle, it does not evaporate—it just keeps going. I grow, I change, I become aggressively more self-aware. And Brody just stays the same and stays the same and stays the same.

      Also, I had to cut it off someplace, because we were coming up on 2000 words. Which is lengthy. Even for me.

        • Äsch, det är faktiskt sÃ¥ att de är mycket nöjda m ørestad i Köpenhamn, danskarna gillar ju dessvärre modernism. Titta bara pÃ¥ det vedervärdiga SAShotellet som enbart blivit känt för de eleganta inredningarna när det kommer till sk¶ÃÃhetsvn¤rden. Det sas bli ett landmärke i det blev sÃ¥. Det fulaste i hela Köpenhamn.

  4. Given that I was never good at having real conversations, it comes as no great surprise that I wasn’t aware of your close relations with Brody. I remember how that guy just became a punk all of a sudden, it suited him so well. he was cool and confident especially after the transformation. Even still I see him at the dive.

    Just in reading your description, I understand the appeal of, and must question what constitutes a “bad boy.” In this case, some drug use, punk hair, and a desire to flirt with a cute girl despite having a girlfriend? I always thought it was physical and mental abuse, possessiveness, etc. like we see in dem movies about junkies.

    If Brody was competent enough to know his chances, be friendly and help you gain some confidence with flirting and physical contact, then he seems an awfully good boy and an actually important character in your adolescence.

    • close relations

      Ha. Ha. Ha.

      Yeah, he wore it well, made it seem like he’d never been any other way, even though I knew he must have—he just always acted like he’d sprung into existence fully-checkered.

      must question what constitutes a “bad boy.”

      Okay, if we want to get factual, at 17 I viewed Brody as a bad boy in the same dogged way I viewed myself as a good girl. Which is to say, I was seeing us both on this totally misguided continuum that was rarely accurate and sometimes didn’t even exist. Because I was running around in the storm drains and breaking curfew and climbing anything I wasn’t supposed to climb, and he really wasn’t all that bad, just crude and outspoken and kind of a partier (and not even the way that all our football boys were senior year). I always liked him fine though, and never felt threatened, was never scared of him.

      I just still had this very rigid idea that being good consisted of impeccable grades and never disrupting class, and if you could manage those two things, then in your spare time . . . well, you could do anything you wanted.

  5. This is going to turn into a long story…

    I wasn’t really a “bad kid”, just a very troubled one in my high school years. I usually ran with a “bad” crowd, but was pretty tame myself. I didn’t get into drugs, thankfully, as I had enough problems to deal with, and strangely enough this won me respect in these circles.

    But, oh, the bad boys. There was one that I had trouble with for many years. He was never overtly sexual or pushy. He was always a gentleman with me. He was much more caustic than I was, more bitter, more angry with life. At the same time, he was a lot more open, a lot more free than I was. I was focusing on trying to resolve my issues, and he was free-wheeling into an abyss and not caring. Being with him was exhilarating.

    There was one time that he took me on a date (kind of). We ran around downtown taking pictures in the park, wandering and talking. There’s a large suspension bridge through Falls Park that spans over the falls of the Reedy River here in Greenville. I got scared halfway across and he told me to take his hand.

    I grabbed it and ran across, feeling like I could do anything with this person. We ran to the Pointsette Hotel and posed as photographers so we could run around inside looking around until we got chased out. We ran away laughing, all the way back to his car.

    We spent many nights driving around in the mountains, not speaking, just burning through our cigarettes and listening to music. We were comfortable just being together.

    At the same time, we couldn’t be together, because our paths had diverged a long time ago. The “good” boy I ended up marrying stole a car and drove 1000+ miles to steal me back from this guy. And this guy ended up leaving school, getting further involved in some things I won’t divulge here for privacy’s sake. Me and the bad boy went our separate ways with no little sadness. It was a long time before either of us could get it through our heads that it just…wasn’t ever going to work out.

    I went my way, choosing to stay with the “good” boy. He’s my soul mate. We’ve been together for over ten years, and will celebrate our first anniversary at the end of October. Our life together is good.

    But if my husband hadn’t driven back…I wonder where I would be now. I wonder how it would have all turned out.

    Thanks for the thought-provoking post <3 Definitely looking forward to hearing more of this particular story…wondering how exactly it turns out.

    • Oh, this is beautiful!

      A lot of your details give me a very cinematic, nostalgic feeling, because while none of it is the kind of history I had with a boy/friend (well, sometimes with Dill), it’s what I did all the time with my sister and my friends, running wild in the state park or driving around for hours and hours, talking and smoking and listening to music, sometimes until the sun came up.

      My sister loved to take pictures of me on playground equipment or posed with sculptures and paintings, so we were constantly collecting backdrops, scheming new and exciting places to go.

      At the time, I wished kind of obsessively for a boy to do these things with and it would be very romantic and like from a movie, but now I’m just so grateful for my friends, and for the fact that I always had people I cared about and we could share the world with each other.

      I wonder where I would be now. I wonder how it would have all turned out.

      I think there are always these relationships—so many people seem to have this one bittersweet era—the relationship that couldn’t possibly work out, but is still essential to the person you eventually become.

      Thanks so much for reading, and for taking the time to share your story.

  6. Isn’t everyone? Seriously. I mean, there are several categories of bad kids (the baseball players who would get themselves sick on pills and plastic water bottles’ worth of vodka every time we played the local Catholic school in any sport, the ones who threw chairs through windows because algebra bores them so violently, the ones who tore each other and the whole hallway to shreds with snide comments) in which I had absolutely no interest, but the shady, outspoken, overconfident punks? Always completely fascinating. Fascinated and amused and deeply transfixed. I’m not even sure I’ve grown out of that one yet.
    Though, maybe mine was a bad year, or it was another part of the rapid and deeply unsettling gentrification process that occurred over the course of my four years of high school, but the best were there my first two years (the purple-haired boys with snakebites and lurking by the water fountain around my locker, and the short boys with neon sweatbands and an angry sense of humor, and the skater boys bringing cups of coffee to their girlfriends when they weren’t cutting class to smoke…) and by the time I was talking, the school was dully devoid of them. I was very much the silent observer in this situation, though, so it’s pretty different. And, of course, (I’m not sure if this was the same for everyone) this breed of kid was vaguely endangered, so they relied mostly on having friends from other towns, similarly dangerous people who went to other schools, but left them looking out-of-context yet resentful whenever they ended up caught in school with us for six hours.

    • I mean, there are several categories of bad kids

      Yes, yes, yes, and I had absolutely no interest in the destructive, aimless, rage-filled variety. (Except on a scientific level. But they still scared me.)

      And, of course, (I’m not sure if this was the same for everyone) this breed of kid was vaguely endangered

      I went to a biggish school and there still weren’t all that many—and they were spread out across three grades, so they tended to be some of the only kids whose close friends were either younger or older than them. They just didn’t have enough options to let them discriminate based on whether someone happened to be a sophomore. (Of course, I didn’t either—by the time I was 18, most of my friends were younger than me by at least a year, and I didn’t even have gauged ears or a labret stud.)

      • Interesting. I always wondered if half the mystique wasn’t that all the kids they knew were from *other* schools, and coated in a level of mystery, while the only people you knew were the same ~200 you’d known since first grade.

  7. I talked to both the good kids and the bad kids. The little group I hung out with had a mixture of both. We had two mormon girls, a girl who was considered a bad girl, and then there was me. A non-mormon but not really bad girl. We also had their boyfriends and guy friends that ranged from the good little mormon boys to the bad boys. A lot of the kids that were considered the bad kids haven’t changed much. Ironically enough, its the mormon kids that have changed more than the bad kids. But there really hasn’t been much time to change for the kids who don’t change in short amounts of time.

    • I talked to both the good kids and the bad kids.

      This is really where I was through most of school, too—I had the kids from my neighborhood and economic bracket, and then I had the kids from the soccer team and my AP classes. The thing for me was, they were just never in the *same* groups, so my sister and I wound up bouncing around a lot. Which is a long way of saying that most of our friends had nothing in common with each other.

  8. An unfortunate fact: I adore Brodys. They are the only guys I’ve ever spent time with, flirted with, dated, that could push back as hard as I push. Their egos are amusing and encourage honesty. Their unconventionality means that they never judge me for just… being different.

    I think they like me because I don’t take any of their crap.

    The thing is, I live my life in a very sensible way. I do not rebel for the sake of rebelling. If I think a rule is unfair, or stupid, I just don’t follow it. I am, in most of my actions a “good girl” (sit, stay. Good puppy.) My good-girlness is just… precarious. So, when I get a Brody, I like him for a while, and then we both realize that the truth is, even though neither of us are particularly mainstream, that doesn’t mean we’re swimming in the same direction. (On a side note, my Brodys are also always my druggies, which made things hard.)

    • Their egos are amusing and encourage honesty.

      I think this is very true. One of the best things about Brody was, I could say all the things I never felt like I could say to other people, or in front of other people. Just getting that practice talking to him made it much easier to improve my conversational skills in general.

      even though neither of us are particularly mainstream, that doesn’t mean we’re swimming in the same direction

      This is very apt, and pretty much the story of my entire high school career. The really funny thing was, objectively speaking, I wasn’t even that good—I just had this unshakable (and semi-arrogant, often delusional) sense that I was incredibly principled. All it really meant was, I wasn’t self-destructive, and maybe that’s what I was actually seeing when I thought of myself as a Good Girl. I was restless and impatient, but no matter how bored I got, I was totally into self-preservation.

  9. I was very much the good girl (and the judgmental girl of the bad ones) back in my youth, so Brody would have appalled/frightened me, especially the touching. I have grown a lot more relaxed about my own and other people’s behaviors since then, but I still don’t find that the bad boys appeal to me at all. Confidence is nice, but cockiness is a huge turn-off for me. I’m probably strange b/c of that, but I’m okay with it. :)

    • Brody would have appalled/frightened me, especially the touching.

      Even now, I’m not really sure why I was okay with it, considering that ordinarily it would have seemed appalling. I mean, whenever anyone else touched me, it always took me by surprise and made me feel kind of jumpy and confused. I think he was just so straight-forward that he was . . . perfectly straight-forward. There was never anything to parse, no mystery to solve.

      Confidence is nice, but cockiness is a huge turn-off for me.

      I’m exactly 100% the same way, but didn’t fully realize it until I went away to college and became distinctly (unpleasantly) Unimpressed. With everything. With anything that any boy hoped would seem impressive. (Did I mention that I was unpleasant?)

      • “I think he was just so straight-forward that he was . . . perfectly straight-forward. There was never anything to parse, no mystery to solve.”

        I can see that. With most other people, you have to spend time thinking about what the touches meant or wondering “was that innuendo-laden?” I guess with Brody you always knew it meant what it meant.

        “…and became distinctly (unpleasantly) Unimpressed. With everything. With anything that any boy hoped would seem impressive. (Did I mention that I was unpleasant?)”

        Hah. You made it hard for your would-be-suitors, didn’t you? ;) Maybe some of them at least learned that trying too hard isn’t attractive. (Or at least not to me — it feels fake.)

        • Hah. You made it hard for your would-be-suitors, didn’t you?

          Angela, I made it hard for everyone—you have no idea ;)

          Maybe some of them at least learned that trying too hard isn’t attractive. (Or at least not to me — it feels fake.)

          That was the part I could never understand—the “why are you trying to trick me?” part. And I was always just so pedantic and literal about things. Once a boy came up to me at a party and told me his name was Blaze, because he liked to blaze, and I asked him what his real name was. He wanted to know what was wrong with Blaze, and I probably could have said a lot of things to that, but I said, “Blaze is not what it says your birth certificate.” Then he told me the name on his birth certificate and went away again. (This was pretty much par for the course.)

  10. I was a Good Girl in high school, but I also feel like all the “bad kids” I knew thought of me as their little sister, so I was never really in this sort of situation. I also went to a private high school, so we didn’t really have any kids with wild hair or multiple piercings or tattoos. There were, I think, two categories of “bad kids”; the ones who wore Chuck Taylors and listened to T-Rex and made trouble in class, and the boys who were clean cut and popular and experimented with hard drugs at parties while their parents were out of town. I didn’t know any boys in the latter group, but I was friends with many in the former because they were funny and we often had the same taste in music.

    I’ve never been interested in the bad boys in real life, chiefly because I’ve found a lot of them are incredibly self-absorbed and very boring to actually talk to. The people I’m always interested in are the people who just do not care what others think about them, since I want to live my life in a similar way, yet have a tendency to worry about other people feeling bad. It’s different from rebellion, in that they’re not actually reacting to something so much as operating by a completely different set of rules, if that makes sense. It’s the difference between a kid who sneaks into a 21+ club with a fake ID to see a band, and makes sure everyone knows that he got in– and a kid who sneaks into a 21+ club with a fake ID to see a band and doesn’t mention it to anyone. I usually find this fascination is mutual, for some reason.

    • I didn’t know any boys in the latter group, but I was friends with many in the former because they were funny and we often had the same taste in music.

      Up until midway through my senior year, this is where I was too—and then my sister got a new boyfriend and we wound up at a lot of football parties and suddenly, I had this whole new world to navigate. A lot of the football boys (though not all) turned out to be decent guys underneath all the drinking and the shouting, but I still always had a strong sense that this was simply not my natural habitat.

      It’s different from rebellion, in that they’re not actually reacting to something so much as operating by a completely different set of rules

      This describes a lot my best friends very accurately. Their behavior really never had much to do with anyone else. It was always very internal, very personal, and I liked that so much. Even though I was never spontaneous or outspoken, I surrounded myself with people who were, because they were people I admired.

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