Suburban Snapshots

Sixteen

Monday, November 29, 2010

Over the last few weeks I've seen the "Letter to my Sixteen-Year-Old Self" blog entries, which is really convenient for me as I have writers' block roughly the size of the Hoover Dam lately.

Dear Angsty Bren,
You are on the verge of trading in your Aqua Net cans for jars of plum colored Manic Panic. Your two gold earrings are going to become six silver hoops. You're going to fall for a gorgeous guy who will come out of the closet from the back seat of your car while you drive around town, unable to pull over and cry. This will happen a few more times — not always in cars — until it becomes a running joke, and these men will never leave your broken teenage heart.

The girlfriend you're distancing in favor of a newer, hipper model is going to be the one at your wedding. The new one? It's not going to end well, at all, but that split will result in possibly the most memorable salutatorian speech ever written (pay attention to it at graduation, because somehow it won't end up on the shaky VHS tape). And the one straight guy you've managed to maintain a two-year crush on? Your kids are going to meet.

I want to tell you that you're not as fat as you think you are, but sometimes I still struggle to believe that. And Mom is right about a lot of stuff, but the thing about college men liking tall women? Well, college men are just a bunch of high-school boys trying to reinvent themselves, and in my experience they like anorexic, chain-smoking, dance majors who put out. The good news is that the guys who will decide to like you will really, really like you.

Which brings me to another point: don't you DARE leave the bedroom when the cute punk boy you spent two years stalking starts running his hands along your back. And, next summer, don't leap up off the stairs when he plants those soft, gorgeous kisses on your forearms. Seriously, if I could come back in time and smack you for one thing, it would be missing out on that, twice.

Know that most of the people you keep close are going to be around for a long time, some will be in and out of your life, in and out of the country, but will keep their places in your heart. They will make you open-minded, grateful, proud, and adventurous. This group you're with is solid, it's small and strong. Good people seem to find you (some crazy ones, too).

I think right now you're feeling like you won't ever have a date, let alone fall in love, but you will. You'll be in love a few times. You'll live to regret breaking one good, sensitive heart — oh, two, actually — and to be sad and angry about having your own mishandled. You'll get through all of it, but maybe take it easy on the Tori Amos and melodramatic letters.

I wish I could tell you that none of this is going to matter, but it all will. I'm almost 40 and I remember you, I carry you around with me. I want you to know that you turn out alright, that Mom wasn't lying all those times she said, "Things will work themselves out." And, as hard as it is to admit, you should grow your hair a little longer (but keep the purple).

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