Recently, I had a mad fit of organizational zealotry, which unearthed letters from my youth. I opened them with a niggling of is-this-a-good idea trepidation. I was about to embark on a journey to my younger self. The self I told stories about as a full-fledged grown up were full of the hardships of youth, my self-sufficiency, the ethical and moral teenager, you know, all the stuff we tell ourselves when you have a teenager in the house. Layce and I are fortunate to have the kind of teenager I thought I was growing up, but, apparently, was not. Memory is a strange thing.
So, here goes the real story as the letters revealed. After high school, I had a gap year, the one you take before the real world begins and you have to start behaving yourself. (This, of course, was yet another myth. I was about thirty before I behaved myself.) During my gap year, I went with friends to spend the winter in Salt Lake City to be a ski bum. The letters I found were from this particular period.
Apparently, I was in need of money. My mom writes, “I sent you the money order you asked for,” to be followed with “When you call collect, I’ll tell the operator I won’t accept the charges and then I’ll call you right back.” Evidently, I had tripled my mother’s phone bill, probably calling to ask for more money. Ski bums working at Snowbird did not make a lot of money.
Then there was the letter asking my mother to go buy edible panties at the adult store. And she did! Bless her heart. She wrote that she was the only person over the age of 25 in the entire store and to compound matters, the clerk insisted on showing them to her and demonstrating how they worked. I hope this only meant unwrapping them correctly. I don’t recall why I needed them. I do know they were for a joke. (I’m fairly certain of this, I hope.) I’m awaiting collaboration.
This was the same period where I gave up wearing underwear and a bra. I think it may have been a laundry situation, but I was going through an anti-establishment period when I thought that rules were a form of tyranny. I will leave off the stealing of toilet paper and the graffiti.
Then there was the nutritional period. I lived on a diet of cheese quesadillos and margaritas. As an adult, I am mortified by this. What about fruits and vegetables, vitamins, and breakfast is the most important meal of the day? Eight hours of sleep? How about wearing weather appropriate clothing? I have a photo of me wearing shorts in the dead of winter. I could’ve caught pneumonia!
The moral of this story is: if Emma did any of these things, she’d be grounded until she was thirty-five. My image of myself when I was eighteen shattered. I was a horrible teenager. I was a wild child, there’s no getting around it. The consolation, I tell myself, is that I did finally grow up. I no longer steal toilet paper because I spent my paycheck on tequila. I don’t buy edible panties. I only do graffiti on the inside of my own backyard fence and I wear under clothing. I have improved. I did manage to tame the wild child.
Note from Layce: I disagree. She’s still wild. It’s like I have two children. But I love her anyway. And I’m buying her edible panties for Valentine’s Day!