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Having a teenage daughter makes you walk back into your own past. You see the things that she is going through and, if you are open, you can remember how you felt at that age, what you were feeling, how you reacted. I was going to say “if you are lucky”, but I must admit that revisiting my teenage years, even in my mind, is sometimes a painful thing. Adolescence isn’t something that most of us would want to go through twice, at least not without the benefit of the wisdom we gain in our futures – and now, I WILL say “if we are lucky”.
I was a late bloomer. I didn’t have my first date until I was almost 16, didn’t have my first kiss until I was actually 16. (You don’t get any more details past that point, sorry.) I was a miserable 14- and 15-year-old. I didn’t know why no one was interested in me. I wanted to believe that I was so pretty that I scared boys off, but my Mother told me that was not the case – she did it gently, but I still remember that conversation – exactly where we were and everything. My best friend Sarah and I felt like we were wearing some sort of sign that said “Never been kissed.” And just like a lot of other things in life, if you didn’t have experience, no one seemed to want to take a chance on you. Sounds like trying to find a job, doesn’t it? Of course, the corollary is rather true as well – if you had too much experience, people weren’t really interested in you either. Strangely enough, also like it is in the business world.
Anyway, as I said, I was a grumpy, bad-tempered teenager (until I could drive and then the world literally opened up before me. I became much nicer once I found my wings.) I didn’t want to be seen with my parents. I stayed in my room almost all the time that I was home, entertaining romantic notions of escape, and what my life would be like. I spent a lot of time in a dreamworld. The scarring experience of my pre-teen years likely played a role in this confused isolationism, and while I remember that, I don’t add it into the equation when I think about my teenage years in the grand scope of things. I guess I remember being a typical teenager.
Well, bloom I did, robustly and delightfully. I think most of us do, even though we think it will never happen. And once I came into my power, I felt invincible. Sometimes I still feel that way. Invincible, yes. Loveable is a little harder to believe, but I’m making good progress on it.
As I watch my girl and her friends go through their teenage years, I compare my own experience to theirs, and draw up from the depths of my soul the turbulent emotions surrounding change, acceptance, love, hormones, justice, freedom, adulthood, social quandaries, sexuality, school, frustrations, and delights. I don’t know if I’m right in applying my own perspective to their situations, now some 35 years later.
But on some level, I think that young women are young women (even if those of my daughter’s age are a bit more worldly than most girls of that age were in the late 1970s), and that the emotions that swirl around aging haven’t changed. In fact, as I find my half-century mark rushing up to meet me squarely in the chin, I realize that I am still experiencing a myriad of emotions around love, escape, freedom, satisfaction, work, frustrations, justice, time demands, acceptance, and delights. I don’t think of myself as much older than Kelsea or her friends at heart. I still feel things just as fully, innocently, and honestly as they do, as I did back then.
I was a late bloomer back then. Perhaps I’m a late bloomer now. Perhaps I am just eternally in bloom. But I am reminded of those lovely roses that bloom until early in the fall, their petals full and lush, their fragrance sweet. And when it is time for them to go, those petals fall like velvet tears, their scent still lingers in the air.
Photo of the day for January 30, 2012: Late Bloomer
San Francisco, California.
A lovely weekend
The man who leaves walks down Wynkoop every day playing his mandolin at 5:00 pm
Cases of San Pellegrino
Instead of a quote of the day, I have a request: Please send prayers to Sarah Bennett, one of Kelsea’s friends who was seriously injured in a car accident during the weekend.