My Mom reminded me the other day that age 15 or 16 was the era of “would you please tell Dad that…” and “Tell your daughter this…”. And I have to keep reminding myself that if judges and courts and Universal law took every 15 year old girl who was mad at their Dad away from them, none of us would have any Dads. It’s not just me, lots of folks I know have girls who are tweens and teens. And those of you who don’t, well… I’ll just say hold onto your hats and leave it at that.
When I was 15 I had my first boyfriend with a car. I got threatened with expulsion for fighting in class (with a boy who still apparently can’t resist needling me to the point of extreme irritation). My friends decided to hate me randomly for no apparent reason. The first deep lessons of the “anyone can say anything they want” quandary started to cut into my soul. I was deeply into Ray Bradbury. My crushes at the time were Harrison Ford, John Lennon and the older boy across the street. No boys at school looked twice at me. We performed Oklahoma, which is significant because those songs are the ones that pop up on incessant replay in my mind to this day. My locker looked like I was hording paper for doomsday. Alienation from the mainstream was solidified. I just did not fit in. Thank god. Thank you thank you thank you because I would not be who I am today.
At 16 I went to High School. Fell in love twice. Met lifelong friends. I went to a dance with someone who had known me since birth. We hung out on the levee, in parks, and boarding houses. We listened to music that reverberates through my memory like a soundtrack. The feeling of being wild and free is palpable in those memories. My sister was 4 and she willingly tagged along in convertibles with the top down and the air blowing through our hair. I got a 45 record of sixteen candles as a birthday present and a t-shirt I have to this day. My brother began to exhibit the signs of severe OCD, addiction and violence enhanced by his lifelong defiance of all authority. My Dad took away the phone if I got in trouble, especially for bad grades. At school we were power reading, moonlight swimming, and spending study halls lying on the floor of rehearsal rooms talking about poetry and love. We couldn’t stand to be apart even for 45 minutes and wrote notes to one another in classes. I was the babysitter of all babysitters for a huge number of families. Some of those kids are still on my friends list today. One Saturday afternoon I had a fight with my Dad and broke the glass in the front door just as a mother came to pick me up to babysit. That was the only time I forgot a job. Sometimes we’d get up in the morning to find that my brother had eaten a gallon of ice cream during the night. My Dad put a lock on the freezer.
I have to remind myself just how wonderful and terrible it is to be a teenager. I have to remember that those memories linger and the people who you love do not fade.
I have to remember that now, to me, my Dad walks on water and that my Mom is the one I go to when I am crying.