I would, of course, have been born in 1990, which is a whole decade away from my real DOB in 1980. How different and yet how unsurprisingly the same my life would be if I were born ten years later. If I were sixteen in 2006, for example, I would not be a supporter of Bush. I wouldn’t fully know why – he seems like a nice man who doesn’t drink (like I don’t, at age sixteen) and who runs a lot (like I try to, at age sixteen) and who professes his faith in God (as I do, quite heartily, as a devoutly Catholic sixteen year-old). For all these things, I admire my president, our president, but I also idolize my father who, albeit a Republican by primary vote, thinks Bush is a bit scary, a bit erratic in wielding his political clout. If I were sixteen, I would tell my father just about everything, particularly about school and my frustrations with certain teachers who don’t even use proper grammar, which bothers me more at age sixteen than if, say, a teacher were to share something inherently untrue with the class or publicly endorse President Bush.
I would not be scared about wars overseas in Iraq or Afghanistan, nor the fact that the U.S. is often without alliance. I will not even fear wars between friends, because I would be a principled sixteen year-old in 2006, undaunted by confrontation and the friendships lost at its harsh expense. Yet, I will be terrified by my powerlessness in so many things. I will sit up at night, wondering if my bosslady at Dairy Queen hates me, even though she told me yesterday that I made the Dilly Bars faster and better than anyone else. I will sometimes lay awake until all of my family has gone to bed and I will cry, passively, listening to “Fall Apart Again” by Brandi Carlile. I might even own the Nick Lachey CD and secretly like the song about his break-up w/ Jessica, and I will listen to that, too, wondering if I will ever be pretty. I, of course, at age sixteen, want to be pretty like Summer from “The O.C.” or smart and sharp-looking, like a Gilmour Girl. I will cry and wonder if I will ever be noticeably pretty, pretty enough for one of the drivers at Domino’s Pizza to ask one of my co-workers if I am attached.
At age sixteen, I will not own any mini skirts (they will not be mini-on me anyway, since I am 4’10”). I will also not own any of those tight pants that say “HOTTIE” in glitterati on the booty. I will stand on a tall soapbox about my fellow sixteen year-olds who wear them, questioning their motives in broadcasting pompous messages on their rear ends. Secretly, though, I will want someone to buy me a pair, ones that say “feministy” to be tongue-in-cheek.
My most favorite moments when I am sixteen will be playing tennis with my girlfriends. We will play at a park near my mother’s house because I do not have a car and they will arrive in their Jeep Cherokees and Priuses, and mostly we will chase the ball into other courts but sometimes we will stop to talk about so-and-so who got a lifeguard boyfriend this summer, and did anyone watch MTV’s “The Hills” and thank God we are not as “vapid” – our new SAT word – as those girls.
Still, I will spend most of my time reading on the back porch, trying to get the painful summer reading out of the way so that I can read Curtis Sittenfeld’s newest:
The Man of My Dreams.
I will harass my sister and ignore my brother and roll my eyes at my mother. I will pray on my rosary beads that there will be peace on earth and that I will swear less under my breath. I will not realize that this will be among the most secure times in my life, that I am fortunate by so many measuring sticks, that I am blessed and cared for by many. Instead, I will long for the time when I can be like Julia Styles in “Ten Things I Hate About You” and get into Sarah Lawrence and write angsty things about my pained life as a sixteen year-old in 2006.