This evening, I got my hands on a relatively recent copy of Seventeen magazine. Which, realistically, I probably haven’t read since I was, you know, seventeen.
Some things have not changed. There are still beauty tips, style tips (for “every body type:” tall, curvy, and petite… I have no idea which of these categories I fall into), and most-embarrassing-moment stories having to do with a crush seeing a receipt for tampons, or having something stuck between your teeth while talking to a crush.*
Other things are different than I remember. There’s now a whole quinceñera section in the middle. There was a page of “flirty texts you can send that are guaranteed to get his interest,” which never would have been in any magazine I was reading a decade ago. There was an article on internet porn, and one about a girl who had fallen in love with her (female) best friend.
Even given the technological and social progression, I was, once again, amazed by the “problems” that teenagers seem to think they have. Even knowing full well that my own biggest worries were once how to get my crush to notice me and how to cover up a zit, looking back now, it all seems so trivial.
Then I remembered the last time I felt 17, and that it was only four years ago (not 11 years ago, as chronology would suggest). Sure, I had big-girl problems at the time, too: I was married, not too happy, trying to make ends meet and make my way, wondering what my career would be… But in the meantime, there was this guy at work that I had a crush on.
And suddenly, the things occupying my mind were not career planning or family planning or whether to stay in or end my marriage. Suddenly, I was more concerned with what to say to “my crush” the next time I saw him; how to casually invite him out for a drink after work; whether his stories about the cute girl hitting on him in the mall held water, or whether he was just telling them for my benefit. For the first time in years, I had to try to decode the male mind; I had to flirt with someone who might actually reject me, instead of just sticking with the old standbys.
I loved the way it felt to be 17 again – maybe because back when I was actually 17, I was still tying up the loose ends of my awkward phase, living in my best friend’s shadow, and not actually daring to act on any of those giddy, angsty feelings, and the second go-round was much more exciting than the real-time deal. Sure, every once in a while, my real-world problems would creep in, and I’d be forced to think about things like my divorce, and who would get to keep which kitchen appliances; sure, my renewed flair for the dramatic got me in trouble at work a few times. But all in all, it was exciting to feel like a teenager, and now that I’m once again old and jaded, I’d give anything to be back in a place where I can be that amazed by the world again, that affected by simple emotions, that ready to put my heart on the line.
Most of the time, here and in life, I feel like I’m pushing to grow up, move forward, take the next step. Flipping through that Seventeen today helped me to remember that there was a time, not too long ago, that marriage felt too old, babies felt too old, 25 felt too old. There’s something to be said for a little well-placed regression, too.
Oh, and my crush? You probably guessed. I did manage to ask him for drinks after work one day; I did send him a flirty text or two (after first having to convince him that he needed a cell phone); and I did win out over the girl in the mall. And we’ve been together ever since.
*In a few weeks, I will be revealing my most-embarrassing-moment story, and then asking you, in return for the privilege of having read it, to donate money to a worthy cause.