Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Things That Shine: "17"

I remember being seventeen, and feeling both invincible and vulnerable at the same time. Seventeen is an in-between age, a fleeting midpoint between childhood and adulthood (the legal kind, at least).

For me, seventeen started in high school but ended in college. It was the year in which I began to notice that I could slip out between the bars of my cage, unnoticed. It was a year of heartbreak and cutting school and willfully doing what made me happy (writing) and compulsively doing what made me miserable (retracing others' footsteps) and tiring of crushes (because the feeling of being crushed really does get old) and worrying about college and speaking and living and loving bluntly (which is, incidentally, a way of causing oneself pain by trying to avoid it).

At seventeen, there was no struggle involved in putting on jeans. My chest was still flat (well, flatter). My hair was long and thick -- I could barely tie it up in a ponytail, it wanted to be free. I wondered if being told I was beautiful meant it could be true -- I didn't know how to see it in myself. I still couldn't tell the difference between a line and a genuine compliment.

The sky was bluer and much higher up, the sunsets more intense, inciting a keen sense of longing that would, in time, become muted. There were things to do but there were also things one shouldn't do, and the lines blurred. Blame seventeen. There was a someday, and it was waiting. It could wait. At seventeen, I was my best and worst self. So much possibility, so much cynicism. I knew everything and nothing.

And now? My daughter has just turned seventeen. I hope that the description above is completely foreign to her. I suppose teen angst is just part of the package, and I know that the heartbreak we experience as teenagers can make us stronger adults, but here's hoping that she knows herself better than I knew myself at seventeen, and that her heart remains whole.
This layout, created with accents from Things That Shine, shares my birthday wish for my daughter.
Seventeen looks different from the parent side of the "cage" I imagined as a teenager. At seventeen I wanted out (whatever that meant); as a parent of a seventeen-year-old daughter, I want to hold on to her for as long as I can.
For parent or teenager, seventeen is a slipping away.  It's just a different kind, depending on the perspective. Creating this layout actually helped me to put things in perspective. Every year is part of a larger story -- it's a sprinkle on a cupcake.
Seventeen is significant, but it is also one in a series of years that define our lives. I'm so blessed to be a part of my daughter's life, at every age.


  1. beautiful text and beautiful journaling on the page! happy birthday to the lucky girl!

  2. I LOVE this page! I love how you are so articulate in expressing exactly how it feels to be that age--I can agree on the parent side of things--it's just WEIRD! My girl will also be 17 graduating and attending college--surreal, exciting, scary--life.

  3. A beautifully written post and an outstanding layout with so much colour and interest. It makes me want to start proper scrapbooking again rather than Project Lifing it all the time!