Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Fourteen Remembered

If you came to my house between seven and eleven last night, you'd have found my living room bubbling over with teenaged laughter and chatter. I had a handful of fourteen and fifteen year old girls here for games, treats and (squeal! squeal! giggle! giggle!) a Johnathan Taylor Thomas movie! Yes, Johnathan Taylor Thomas, (known to some of his more ardent adorers as "JTT,") of Home Improvement fame. Who knew he still had the power to lay bare the beating hearts of teenaged girls, nearly a decade past his prime? Not I. Anyhow, we got to enjoy a feature film's length installment of his "gorgeousness." My amusement levels soared as the girls ogled over "those bl-u-u-u-e eyes," and how he was "so adorable when he was cold and his cheeks got all pink. Awww!"

Was I so high-pitched and giddy, I wondered, as I gleaned bits and pieces of the four hours worth of girl talk that was exchanged on my hide-a-bed over bowls of microwave popcorn.

In some moments, I think I was.

Thus stirred to reflect upon that chapter of life, I bring you My Fourteenth/Fifteenth years, which found me:

Fascinated by the little details about people, like how cheerfully they answered the phone, wondering how I'd answer the phone when I grew up. (My favorite person to call was Heather Johnson 'cause her mom had the most delightful "Hellooo!" of all.)

Two thirds of the way through a molasses-paced marathon of orthodontic treatment; especially awkward in light of the fact that ninety seven percent of my peers had been freed from their metallic mouthfuls in eighth grade.

Trying my hand at racquet sports for the first time on the High School tennis team.

Nervously wondering who my real friends were--and who they'd be at T-period (the fifteen minute break between morning classes in which you had to find people to stand and exchange mindless drivel with.)

Weaving careful plans to avoid transportation on the bus (whether or not one rode the bus was like the tell-all litmus indicator of Geekdom. I rode the bus more than I care to remember.)

Intensely aware of my physical appearance. Fretting over blemishes, tan lines, stretch marks, extra pounds, the hair in my underarms, the circumference of my thighs, and the possibility of an embarrassing menstrual moment at school.

Feeling so relieved and safe to go home at the end of every day.

Wanting so desperately to be good at one thing, (one thing that people could see--like sports, because sports were cool,) instead of just okay at a lot of things, or really good at things that nobody cared about--like playing the piano or being able to string words together with relative grace. Bleh.

Trying to figure out whether or not to have a crush on that one boy. As if it was a matter of logic!

Worrying about what I'd eat for lunch and where I'd eat it, if I'd get a ride and be able to go off campus, if I'd have friends to eat with, or if I'd have to wander stealthily around the church building across the street, pretending to just be over there to "use the bathroom," so as not to be labeled a loner.

Trying to avoid sleepovers like the Black Death (unless they were at my own house,) because it was ok to call my parents--homesick and wanting to leave--at eleven thirty in fifth grade, but that kind of weenie-hood just didn't fly in high school.
Explaining to slack-jawed classmates that "yes, my mom is going to have another baby." And that "yeah, I know that's a big age span." (De-r-r-r-r! Idiots.)

Wondering what me and my chest would look like when we grew up. Wondering if I'd ever marry. If he'd be cute. If I'd get fat. If I'd have children. If they'd be cute.

Wanting to be wanted. Wanting to be liked. Wanting to be pretty. Wanting to be praised. Wanting to be good enough. Wanting to be better than that. Wanting straight A's, straight teeth, straight hair, straight hips. Wanting to be...perfect.

In many ways, I feel like everything's changed; in others--like nothing's budged. But when I think of my past self, I get overwhelmingly tender feelings that make me wish the impractical wish that I could walk back through the years of separation and hug that sweet, insecure, well-intentioned, hopeful, worrying child. And tell her that she was gorgeous and good and that everything would work out better than she was planning, though different in nearly every way. (I'd also warn her to never start shaving those four hairs in her armpits. But we committed ourselves to a lifetime of pit shaving after that trip to Europe inspired her to take the Venus to those four barely visible hairs. Argh!)

Sometimes I wish the equally impractical wish that she could walk forward through the years of separation and hug me. I hope she'd tell me that she's thrilled with where we are and how we got here. Some days I could really use the assurance.

I know her pretty well; I think she would.

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