When I was fourteen, I knew where my life was going. I was going to University, and then either to law or med school.
I was never going to have kids.
I’d discovered the magic that was a~ha, and was their biggest fan.
I totally rocked acid wash and stone washed jeans. Painted on, with zippers at the ankles. And mini skirts. And my favourite shirt had studs and rhinestones on it.
I’d met a new girl at school, who was an incredible artist. We became good friends, and she made me a 15th birthday cake with the keyboardist from a~ha on it.
I thought that 30 was probably old. 40 definitely was.
Aging, death, ill health…none of that was my problem. It would never happen to me.
I was scared a lot, but hid it. I hated going home, and knew everything was my fault. I believed my parents when I was told how stupid, fat, useless and lazy I was. I believed I deserved every punishment I got, no matter what marks it left.
That was then.
This is now.
I didn’t go to University. I did work in health care, and loved it.
I have more kids than average, and am glad and grateful for it.
That new girl? She’s still my best friend. What’s more, she’s shared her family with me, and her parents and her brother have become my family as well. The poor buggers.
a~ha? Well, all my kids love ‘Take On Me’. It’s still one of the coolest music videos ever, in my opinion.
30 isn’t old. Nor is 40. 80 probably is.
And nobody is ever immune to the passing of time, the bad bounces of fate, and where there’s life, there’s turbulence. And hope.
I’ve learned that I’m not who I told I was. I’ve learned that I’m not stupid, useless and lazy. And I prefer the term, ‘luscious’ to ‘fat’, thankyouverymuch. I’ve learned that I’m not to blame for what other people do, that everyone has the right to be safe, physically and emotionally. I’ve learned that I’m a good and decent person, who both loves, and is worthy of love.
I’ve learned that, while dreams of youth can fade, so can the miseries. That sometimes, the beliefs you grow up with are best let go, that something that seems so right, that makes so much sense, can crumble to dust with the passage of time, and that can be a gift in itself.
I think I might have finally learned who I am…the good, the bad, the flawed. I regret the mistakes I’ve made, and some of them leave a bitter, rancid taste. I’ve learned to appreciate, and even celebrate my accomplishments, and to enjoy the sweetness of the moments I have, that they are fleeting, so much more so than the bad. I’ve learned that time doesn’t heal all wounds, but you can get trapped in the wounds of the past, and it can rob you of the present, and the future.
I’ve learned that no matter where my head and heart are, time keeps moving, faster than I ever would’ve believed possible.
I’ve learned that as much as I wish things had been different for that fourteen year old I once was, I can do my very best to ensure that my kids have better memories of their fourteenth year.
And I hope, and pray, that they find the same friendship I did, at such a young age. That they find a best friend that sustains them over the years, who they can laugh and cry with, who’ll pat them on the back, and then kick their butt, sometimes even in the same conversation.
And, I might have learned that stone washed, acid washed jeans might not have been as cool as we all thought.
What have you learned since you were fourteen? What are your strongest memories from that age?