I saw a post on Facebook the other day. It was one of those inane tests we take to gain insight in our lives. As if by pushing the ‘start’ button, we are going to find out a hidden secret that will change our lives. This particular test was about our age. Specifically, how old you felt right now. A friend of mine commented on the post saying “I think all women still feel 26, no matter how old they are”. I have been reflecting on this since. Have I thrown off my girlhood? My innocence? Have I let go of that cherished time? How old do I really feel?
I still clearly remember my first kiss. I can transport myself back to that single moment. I remember the surprise when I realized he was about to kiss me. I can shift myself to the right just a bit and look up and see the brightness of the light we were standing under. I can still feel his mouth. The softness and warmth of it. The sheer thrill of slipping across a mark in my life. I can recall the terrifying thought that I might not be doing it right and the goosebumps I got when he put his arm around my waist to pull me closer in.
I also remember, unmistakably, the most horrific thing any young girl could experience. My dad walked around the end of the skating rink and caught us locked in an embrace and yelled, quite loudly and publicly, “QUIT SUCKING ON HIS FACE!”. I say this will all sincerity, I don’t think I was ever more humiliated as a girl than right then. I remember the boy abruptly letting go, hanging his head, walking away. I can still rouse up the feeling of embarrassment and the sting of the first tears as they started to fall. I know the sick feeling of wondering if, not only the moment had been ruined but the relationship as well. I can still taste the bitter taste of hate that I had for my dad and the heat of the humiliation that ran through my core.
When the boy finally tired of me, the second chances all gone, I remember the first time I felt the true feeling of rejection and heartache. The loss I suffered and the love that still dwelled, ir’s still here. It has smoothed over and healed, but a scar takes it’s place. The feeling of not being wanted anymore, the hole it left, the words he said, his voice comes back to me. Will that ever be lost? Will I keep all of these bright spots and low carvings until I am an old lady?
These emotions and responses are still so real to me. I don’t feel as if they happend to a girl thirty-some years ago. It’s much closer than that. It was just the other day. The details are sketched in a flash-back that is so easily recalled. I can summon this memory with barely a whisper. It doesn’t seem so long ago, how could it be that long ago? Is that even possible?
Did my Grandmother’s remember their first kisses with such clarity? Did they wonder what ever happened to that sweet boy who stole a kiss from them under the street light or the bright light of the moon? Did they remember the smell of his cologne or the feel of his hands? Can my Mother call up memories with such ease? The thought that they did is a dreadful feeling. I may have missed the opportunity to ask the questions and store their answers. I can no longer learn from and pass down their most precious memories to their great-grand daughters. I pine over the loss of not being able to share this part of their lives. My Mother is still here, I won’t miss her stories.
I have children older than I feel. They shouldn’t be grown, having children of their own. We should still be playing little league and chasing fireflies. There is a line in an old country song, “I still remember, when 30 was old.” Can you remember that? Do you feel that? That unrealistic realization that 30 is behind you? Does it startle you once in a while? Some days I can hardly comprehend the reality that my youth is behind me and I have a son who is 30.
I still blush when a pretty man appears to be flirting with me. I still swoon over my favorite movie star. I can listen to that special Journey song and be in the that Trans Am, pushing at the boundries that my mother laid down. Watching Footloose takes me back to the theatre at the Mounds Mall with my boyfriend and the anticipation of what would happen on the car ride home. I remember my first ‘I love you’ that really meant something. and the way it made me feel. The security of knowing he was really mine. Does that feeling ever go away? Will I have that precious memory when I am 60? 70? 80? Where did my life go? It’s happening so quickly. The more I try to slow it down, the more slippery it becomes.
I have accomplished a lot in my life and I have raised five amazing children and I am proud of that every day. I love the life I have, I am blessed in every way. I think what I am saying is, I don’t feel 50. I am surprised by the flaws in my skin and the weight of my breasts. I am taken aback with how my body has begun to betray me. I mourn the loss of the ability to conceive another child. My uterus is gone, my eyebrows are disappearing at an alarming rate. My hips are wide and under all that platinum blond hair that I work so hard to maintain, I have just a touch of gray, though you will never see it. All that just surprises the hell out of me. It’s hard to wrap my head, arms, heart around. Was it hard for my grandmothers in the same way? When my Mother looks at her reflection, what does she see? Is it at odds with what she embraces?
When I was 17, I loved Prince. Amy Jo and I watched Purple Rain too many times to count. We dressed like Apollonia and tried to mimic her sultry pout. Jumping into that old Camero, we would push the Purple Rain cassette in before we even started the car. The music pounding, we sang all the words we knew so well. Words I still know. We didn’t have a care in the world. We were free. Yesterday when I heard that Prince had died, I thought of Amy first. A piece of our youth died. We made memories to his music. I still remember the summer nights out on Gun Barn Road, drinking Bartles and James and shattering the hot, quiet night with his songs. My mind can still be there in the blinking of an eye.
I miss the youthfulness of my body. However, my mind still holds on tightly to the tender pleasures of being naive and the suppleness of my younger years. I can’t imagine letting this part of myself go. I hope all the yearning in life is always there. I won’t throw that part of myself away. The precious memories and the awakenings of pleasures so sweet, I will hold on to that with a strength that will never allude me. I still feel relevant. I feel young even though my body reminds me daily that I might not be. I feel 26. How old do you feel?