1974: I turn 17

Yesterday afternoon it occurred to me I hadn’t mentioned my friends–spending the night out, the spend-the-night parties, the trips together. I find that odd. I always had a best friend. I still keep up with my best friend from high school, from college, from law school. But I’m writing what pops up first, trying to remember at least one specific moment, what it felt like to be in my skin that year. The mood.

1974: My mother and I scream at each other as she watches me back out of the driveway with my three sisters in the car on the way to school. I’m taking lots of AP courses and doubling up on French. I study 3 hours a day. No sports. Over a weekend I go on a ski trip to North Carolina–I only have blue jeans and I freeze. I make what I look back on as one of the stupidest decisions in my life, that there’s no way I can go to my dream college in Vermont if I’m freezing in NC. Followed right up by another one… While I’m making a scrapbook for my boyfriend, my mother comes into my room, sees what I’m doing, and says, “You’re wasting baby pictures and it won’t even last.” I vow to prove her wrong. The clock radio spins Bennie and the Jets, Hooked on a Feeling, and Time in a Bottle into the darkness. Nixon resigns. That summer, we get our senior photos taken. On the weekend, I babysit or go on a date or spend the night with my best friend Susan. Senior year begins. I apply early decision to Davidson College because it’s the school most like Middlebury in the state of North Carolina. I get in and it doesn’t seem real. At home, we eat at the table. Four girls and one boy share two bathrooms, someone is always banging on a door, and despite college plans, I’m certain this will always be my life.

43 days to 60


Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
Mary Oliver

7 thoughts on “1974: I turn 17

  1. I like your tendency to focus on one defining moment and capture a mood, it works perfectly for these small posts. That decision about being cold–Ha! I SO relate to that! You have NO IDEA how afraid I was to move to Maine merely b/c of the weather, and that happened in my late 30s, so, once again, we determine that you are a good 20 years of smarts ahead of me on all things. Anyway, I am totally enchanted by that decision and look at what a lovely life you made, clearly it didn’t hurt you. But yeah, I get it, you’re criticizing the thought process. Well, you get to be silly ONCE in your teen years, right?!

    What a delightful ball of contradiction you were as a teen. Wanting so badly to get OUT but making a scrapbook for a boyfriend. I think that speaks to the independence and individuality that is so evident in you now, as well as your nurturing spirit. I’m not sure I’ve ever before thought of those two things as contradictory–being independent and nurturing–but I see now how easily they CAN be. Do you feel you’ve figured out the right balance of those two qualities as you approach 60?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve never thought of myself as nurturing but jeez, I had four kids…

      Wait a minute, “As you approach 60…”I’M not approaching 60. Approaching 60???

      As far as the right balance, I think I’m finally getting close after too many years of way too much nurturing…


      • Your nurturing side was always very apparent to me when we were working together, and when we were in Ogunquit. Because of the way you talked about your children and your new grand baby (and well b/c of all the things you were doing for them) but also b/c you automatically think about the needs of those around you in a way that signals a nurturing person. Balance is always an issue for anyone so other-attuned. I’m glad you’re getting there. I’ve always called finding balance a life project, and so it is. I will now use you as my role model and give myself to 60 to manage it!

        Re approaching 60, that’s how I felt about approaching 40 and now 50. It’s such a shock b/c I am that same gibbering, pink-nosed gerbil/curious, eager, strong-willed girl/quiet, over-thinking, book-gobbler I ALWAYS was. No smarter, really, no stronger, no more complete. Well, I am all of those things. But at any given moment, I feel exactly the same as I did before I learned one single important lesson, made one single important mistake. You probably know what I mean by that….

        Also, I don’t know about you, but I hate feeling like I’m running out of time. I have so much more to do!!! That’s the joy of your posts, though, isn’t it? It reminds us to appreciate, savor, and find solid footing for the coming years of accomplishment….

        Liked by 1 person

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