Thursday, October 10, 2013

Back to the past

I'm time traveling this weekend.  I've hopped in the Delorean, turned on the flux capacitor and set the year to 1993.  By Saturday night I will be in the throes of my 20 year high school reunion.  What did you say?  How can I possibly be old enough to say that my last day of high school was 20 years ago?  Thank you.  I completely agree with you.

But old enough I am.

And oddly enough I am choosing to go back to this time when I was 16,17,18 and 19.  When my crowning achievements were my mediocre softball career and a pretty okay grade in writing.  A time when I was inwardly funny and fun and strong, but outwardly quiet, awkward and full of self-doubt.

High school.  Four short years.  Teenage years.  No matter the substance of those years, it is still a part of who we become.  I look back to that time with a mixture of longing and regret.  Regret at the girl I almost could have been.  Longing to tell that girl to lighten up and enjoy her youth.  Hindsight makes us sound so wise.  It makes me wonder what my 80 year old self would like to say to me right now.

The girls sat on my bed while I tried to figure out what to wear to the "cocktail attire" evening.  I confidently put on a tried and true black dress I've had for years and wait for my daughters to shower me with compliments.  Ella tilted her head to one side thoughtfully and gave me a sad kind of look.  Keira looked at me shrewdly and said, "That's too long."

"Yeah Mommy," Ella adds helpfully, "you should wear something that makes you look younger."

Seriously?

Keira then runs to my closet and pulls out a sequined top, shorts and what can only be described as "hooker" heels. She worries me.

We finally all agree upon a dress and I finish packing.  As Ella walks out of the bathroom, she looks back at me and asks, "Why can't we go with you?"

"It's just for adults, babe."

She squints at me and with a flip of her hair says, "That is totes unfair."  And walks out of the room.

Sometimes I wish I could be 9 years old again.  It looks like a super carefree age.

But no matter how much I wish I could make my teenage self be different, stronger, confident, kinder, better....I can't change who I was then.  She is a part of me today.  And my teenage memory is what I keep close as my kids prepare to navigate their own teenage years.  Maybe they will do it better than I did.  Or maybe they will make their own mistakes.  Mistakes, missed opportunities, mediocrity they bring with them to their future selves.  Our past is important.  But it doesn't have to define who we become.  That part is up to us.

So this Saturday I will step back into the past.  And in the words of my 9 year old self..it is going to be totes awesome.