Keeping Company With Our Teenage Ghosts

A part of me will always long for the intensity of those bygone teen years (and that bygone flat stomach)

A friend of mine recently admitted to me that although she tries to lead a purposeful life, the last time she felt "really good and in love with anything" was when she was a teen.  She asked me if I felt the same way?  That's a hard one to answer.

While it's true that I sometimes get a responsibility high from the random acts of maturity I commit as an adult; such as going to H&R Block to file my taxes on time, or picking out an elegant-yet-practical bed frame from the IKEA catalog.  Do I feel as intensely about anything as I did when I was 17? Hardly...

I can't help but miss that overwhelming surge of emotion that seemed to exist when I (and most of my friends) were coming of age.  Stuff actually mattered to us!  We were experiencing things for the first time, and even if it all fell apart in the end, we let things die a natural death.  You can accuse me of romanticizing the past (and perhaps that's what I'm doing) but despite all the acne, hormonal rage and melodrama that comes with being a teenager, some of my most vivid memories also stem from that time.

But alas, none of us can stay put in one era forever, and quite frankly, one lap around the teen years is often enough.  Instead, I think that the best we can do is try to strike a deal with our teenage ghosts, so that we don't feel numb about everything.  

If I had the opportunity to talk to my 17-year old self, I'd tell her, "Listen Jenn, I can't afford to lock myself in my room anymore, while blasting Ani Difranco and emptying out my tear ducts.  But I promise you that somewhere, deep inside of the present me, is the capacity to feel great excitement and experience great loss.  I promise you I'll dig deeper to get in touch with those emotions that came to us so easily back then, and that I won't be ashamed to express them when I find them."
I'd like to think she'd reply, "I trust you with our life.  Just don't forget about me."

So to my dear friend who sometimes feels like she's simply going through the motions, I offer only one piece of advice: Try to keep good company with your own ghost.  Not only is she wiser than you give her credit for, but she's counting on you to makes sense of this blur called adulthood.