Sweet Sixteen

Sweet sixteen and never been... 

Well, I'd been kissed. In fact, at sixteen, I had just broken up with boy friend number two. I got a "Dear Ali" letter when he went off to work on a farm for the summer. I was the typical angst-filled teen for the summer. That is, I cried a lot and wrote bad poetry by night, and by day I strutted my stuff showing how I was really okay.

Broken heart notwithstanding, I felt I had something to strut back then. A couple of years before I felt like the proverbial ugly duckling. A year or so later, I would start yo-yo dieting and hiding beneath over-sized sweaters. But at sixteen I felt intelligent, powerful and beautiful. I felt like I was finally becoming the person I was supposed to be.

I hope my niece Claire feels that good.

Claire is turning sixteen today. She is gorgeous, independent, powerful and full of the typical teen angst and hormones. She's more like her mother (my sister) than me, but she sparked my memories and this blog.

I can't remember what my sixteenth birthday was like. I know it didn't involve a big party because I stopped having big parties (at my request) when I was ten. I did get talked into a big party when I was twenty-one. (My mother told everyone I'd never marry and that they should give me household gifts now.) I was surprised by a party at age thirty, and decided that one was warranted at fifty, but no party for sweet sixteen.

I can't remember what I was given. I am sure it wasn't a nose ring -- which is what I gave Claire. We went out for it together. Now I think of it, my mother might have taken me out for a piece of jewelry too. Not a nose ring. The only think I pierced was my ears and after that I cried because my lobes had holes in them forever. At sixteen you're at the age when it's easier to be taken out to get a present than be surprised by one.

I do remember what it felt like to be sixteen. I remember admiring the curves of my hips when I pulled on my jeans. I remember whistles and crude comments I'd pretend I hadn't heard. And I remember being sure of myself and so sure I was right about everything.

It was sweet.