Posts Tagged ‘youth’
Recently, I had the pleasure of spending a holiday weekend with friends in their 70’s. My husband and I enjoyed their company immensely. After the weekend, I found myself envying their active lifestyle. They seemed to have the enthusiastic ability to go anywhere, hang out with anyone, and enjoy everything. I know many younger couples who aren’t as good company.
We are so fortunate to live in an era when older adults are more fit, more energetic and more active than ever before, but some people allow themselves to age before they need to. If I’m fortunate enough to live a long life, I’ll be dyeing my hair an unnaturally youthful color and lamenting the fact that the fashions in the “juniors” department never used to be cut so small. I can’t help it, I come from a very long line of very vain people. I hope to look as good as I can, for as long as possible, without appearing like an amnesiac who has forgotten her true age.
Don’t misunderstand, I’m not crazy about looking older, but I’m not interested in trying to recapture my youth. There is plenty from my younger years I miss, but youth is largely over-rated. With age comes many things that threaten our health and well-being, but looking back on my younger years, I think I’m darned lucky to have survived. By God’s grace, I survived heartbreaks, angst, insecurities, stupidity, countless bad decisions and too many foolish risks.
I am very content with the age I am today, but have little enthusiasm for the “golden” years. As I see it, if youth is Heaven and old age is Hell, I’m in chronological purgatory. It’s an awkward age, but I rather like it here, in this limbo between Forever 21 and AARP. I’d be content to stay here forever, but unfortunately, I’ll soon be revisiting my past. I’m going back to THE Awkward Age.
To go with the arms and legs that have always been a little too long for my body, his week I’m getting braces. Which means, I’m just one bad haircut or acne outbreak away from puberty deja vu. Braces are one of very few things I missed as a teen. Though braces are de rigueur for most teens today, when I was an adolescent they were reserved for families who could afford them or those whose dentitia was bad enough to mandate them. Since I was in neither category, my dentist’s best effort to straighten my teeth, without orthodontics, had to suffice.
I had considered braces a few years ago, because I’d never been completely satisfied with my smile, but as crazy as it sounds, seeing the computer-imaging of my face with a perfect smile, didn’t seem like me. My generous-sized Hispanic teeth, all aligned with perfection, was wasp-y and foreign. On those computer-generated projections, I saw the smile I’d always dreamed of having, but I realized, I liked the one I had just as much. Unfortunately,whether or not we like it, our bodies are continually changing–including our teeth. I had a couple issues in my mouth that continued to progress a little each year. It was time to embrace a new smile in the hopes of having a happier mouth later on. So…this week, I’ll be joining the ranks of millions of adolescents with tin grins.
The preliminary phase of preparation for braces has been more uncomfortable than I’d imagined. I wish I could feel more enthusiastic about the improvements the braces should bring, but right now, I’m just trying to enjoy a last hurrah with fresh vegetables. While my teeth are lining up, like so many tin soldiers ready for inspection, I‘ll be missing chomping on juicy red apples, garden carrots, summer corn, crispy refreshing celery and delicious raw broccoli. Goodbye crunchy & chewy things, maybe we’ll meet again when soup season comes. At least I don’t have to wear headgear.
I’m all for knowledge and it seems knowledge should be empowering, but sometimes knowledge is just knowledge. In fact, knowledge can be paralyzing. When we know everything we need to know, we don’t always know what to do with the information. Knowledge is very overrated.
Ignorance, on the other hand, is under-rated and rarely seen as power. Yet, there are many circumstances, in which, ignorance is at least as empowering as knowledge. The old adage “Ignorance is bliss”, is my favorite of clichés, because I find it so often true. Innocent ignorance is the thing that makes childhood so much better than “grown-up hood”.
Ignorance allows us to suspend logic and believe the impossible. Knowledge on the other hand, ruins Santa, The Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy. Knowing that The Tooth Fairy isn’t real is part of the “older, but wiser” thing. Personally, I prefer wisdom to knowledge. Older but wiser is good, but not nearly as daring and optimistic as young & ignorant.
Such is the case of 20-year old Marisol Valles Garcia. She’s a college student, so her head is probably full of knowledge, but she’s also blissfully ignorant. If she knew as much as she thinks she does, she would have never accepted the job as the Chief of Police in one of Mexico’s most dangerous little cities. She’s probably a smart girl, who has studied just enough criminal science, to make her believe in stuff which works better on paper than in real-life, consequently, she took the job nobody else would take. Like a modern day Joan of Arc, she has only her convictions to convince her she can stand against armies of drug thugs.
With less than 10,000 residents, and a single police car, this small city has been victim to hundreds of drug-related murders, kidnappings and even assassinations. Yet, in her ignorance, she believes she can turn around the climate of this city, by hiring more police officers–especially women, and by building a greater sense of community, through more interaction between the citizens and law enforcement.
God Bless her. She’s just young enough to believe everything she learned in school. That would make her almost a cliché. If she had a realistic idea of risk she’s embraced, she’d probably have been happy with a job at McTaco. What will happen to her is anybody’s guess, but you gotta admire her moxy.
That’s the beauty of youthful ignorance. It gives us the ability to believe in stuff and take risks–but her idealism may cost her life. Call it courage, call it chutzpah, call it cojones–by any name, it’s the idealism of ignorance that has allowed her to believe she could have an impact. Let’s hope she’s right.
Here’s to ignorance.
Because I am forever a girl, Memorial Day is special to me. When I was little, it was the day after which it became acceptable for women to wear white clothes & shoes–only one of many freedoms it brought. Days spent playing in the sprinklers, late afternoon-air filled with the smell of meat cooked over charcoal and late evenings best spent out doors–summer has never been finer. The unofficial start of the summer vacation season, with longer days and warmer temperatures, is as exhilarating to me now, as it was when summer was three months of freedom.
Memorial Day will never feel the same to my children–because they’ve always attended year-round schools. They’ve never known long lazy summers like the ones I used to enjoy. Neither will they experience the melancholy which afflicts me after Labor Day, when the summer season winds down until the next year.
It’s been ages since I was a schoolgirl, looking forward to those seemingly endless summers, but the carefree innocence of those days is one of many things lost. Days in the town square with trips to the candy store for a Sno-Cone and evenings eating ice cream while watching softball games are among many youthful pleasures long gone, but fondly remembered.
Memorial Day is a good time to remember. While most holidays celebrate good things, Memorial Day is about sad things–remembering things lost.
This year, I’ll spend Memorial Day in the old hometown with family & friends. My brother and I will take time to go visit the graves of family members we’ve lost. I’ll spend time with my crew of cousins–the Brown-eyed Girls. I’ll take time to enjoy a long slow cigar with one of my oldest girlfriends.
I’m not a cigar smoker, but I make an exception for her. The night my father was buried, we watched the sunset over his grave and smoked a cigar. The talk and the closeness to one with whom it’s too late to be guarded, shored up my spirit as I did my best to reconcile my father’s body in the ground and the loss of his presence in my life.
Now, the cigar is symbolic of how long we’ve been friends, because that same girlfriend is one with whom, I whiled away many days of those summer vacations of years gone-by. Our days were filled with dolls, forts, first boyfriends–eventually husbands replaced boyfriends, children replaced dolls and houses replaced tree-forts. I can think of no better way to begin summer than remembering and celebrating an enduring friendship.
Life and the things we look forward to are over too soon. Things like childhood, graduations, weddings, holidays and life come and go too quickly. Once the graduations and June weddings begin, the pace of summer will be too fast for a kid like me. That’s why this weekend I’ll take it easy. As I enjoy the company of some of my favorite people, I’ll be remembering how long summer used to be.
Deb’s Note: Lest the significance of Memorial Day is diminished by my nostalgic sentiments, Wednesday’s blog addresses what the holiday is really about.