Write a post inspired by your sixteenth birthday.

You ask such hard questions!

Fifty years ago I celebrated my sixteenth birthday. Yep. Half a century, more than half a lifetime. Another person, another place, another time. Most likely it was quite an occasion — it’s just one of those milestones in life. I’m sure I felt it was very important at the time, but I really can’t recall one thing about it.

I remember the sixties well — both the worst and the best decade. Look at how it started — Kennedy’s assassination: November 22, 1963. Nearly everyone my age will say they remember the day distinctly, and I can recall exactly what I was doing — making brownies. But I was still recovering from my own grief over the death of my dad about a year earlier. From that point of view I think I could sympathize more with the loss of Mrs. Kennedy and her children. When my dad died, my sister was 6-1/2 and she remembers her father hardly at all. I guess Caroline and John feel that way, too, but they have a whole lot more video to watch to learn more about him and feel more like they knew him.

In 1970 I graduated from college, had met my husband, and had enjoyed my college experience greatly. While I was hardly a hippie, it was a great time to be in one’s teens and twenties.

Sixteen these days is far different from it was when I was in high school. Girls are far more precocious, probably better educated, and generally more assertive. Their relationships with boys are, I’m quite sure, different, too. I was in the “good girl” group in high school, and I recall that we looked down on the group that was overtly more sexual, who smoked, who hung off boys in the hallways. We could point out the “bad” girls, but sometimes, I learned, the “good” girls weren’t exactly what they seemed.

I was very naive, and while pretty popular in school and involved in a lot of activities, didn’t date a lot. I was a bit on the serious side, no doubt because I’d had to think about life and death, loss and grieving. I was a good student, but never felt challenged enough — except in math and science where I was just plain baffled. (Wish I’d had better teachers and a more open mind.) I was a writer, a dreamer, and also in love with history. There are a lot of good stories that take place in the past! When I went to college, I studied Medieval History — talk about sex and violence! It’s always been around.

When I look back, high school was a down period in my life, not just because I lost my dad during that period, but it’s a hard age to be. I think the teenage years are more difficult and turbulent than many people think. It looks like a lot of fun from the outside, and I think the kids who keep really busy, do well in school, and take advantage of all the opportunities available probably find it more fulfilling. Personally, it’s not a time I’d choose to relive.

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