To my sixteen year old self, sex was uncharted waters only explored in the waves of linen blankets covering a futon set in Matthew’s basement. A uniform of oversized t-shirts and new underwear (because, now underwear mattered) was worn to navigate new territory.
We slept together. We did not sleep together. And talked about the important things like his Pink Floyd poster, how much we looked forward to college, and how we would reach our dreams. We tried, acted, practised being adults – all while wearing our underpants
My sixteen year old self had never had their sixteen year old heart broken. It had never been opened wide enough to let people in. When the doors were finally unlocked, it split open at its wooden arterial seams into a million little splinters.
My sixteen year old self picked up those pieces and glued them back together (dollar store glue that didn’t hold quite right, but close enough). That heart learned to beat for other things I loved. Books, music and films. A big brother who teased me, the small freckles on my shoulders that appear in the summer, a journal I got for my birthday, and a drivers license at midnight.
Before I knew it, time went by in years, not minutes. And my fourty year old self was telling my children about being sixteen. Telling them to be young and act like it. To be critical and aware. Always say yes to ice cream. To be the action that causes the best reaction. To never be ashamed of what they are feeling; happy or sad. That girl is a four letter word for strength. And 16 is a magic number.