I see you.
You’re glaring at me, smoking a cigarette, hating me on sight. You’re posing on the stoop, sitting with your legs spread at just the right angle. You look cool. I’m in my dull beige coat, big bag on my shoulder, hair pulled back in a low bun, walking past you in sensible shoes. Wouldn’t want to get bunions now, would I? You see me as someone’s boring mom; a person who offers up stale breath mints from the depths of that big bag and scolds people who litter.
But only the last part is true.
I couldn’t help but smile. So you flipped me off. Now, you’re not gonna like this at all but…I think you’re adorable.
I love your scowl, your angry eyes shooting daggers at me from underneath lashings of liquid black eyeliner, your dark cranberry lipstick, your jet black dyed hair. I love your vintage coat and big clunky boots, which you were probably wearing even before the weather got cold enough, sweating for style.
It gets worse. Because you’re really not gonna like this. The thing is that I used to be you. Harrowing, right? But it’s true. Right down to the black eyeliner and sneer. You don’t know how much I hated everyone. I was rude and loud and wanted to tear up the town. I stunk of clove cigarettes and mothballs from my vintage wardrobe. I was a glorious testament to DIY sartorial fuckery. No outfit was finished until it had been dyed with RIT, or hemmed with lace, or the sleeves had been ripped off or I’d replaced the zipper with military buttons. I stuffed my fat, wide feet into the most uncomfortable John Fluevog winklepickers. I’ve got permanently squished in pinky toes to prove it. So trust me when I tell you that back then I would have hated present day me just as much as you do.
You soothe me, Bitchy Teenage Girl. Your sneer and your raised middle finger are incredibly comforting. You’re pimpled proof that the world is not so different today and there isn’t so much distance between our generations after all.
Yeah. Okay. Maybe this is wishful thinking. But I bet you write just as much bad poetry and song lyrics in notebooks as I did. Or maybe you write on your iPad. Either way, I hope your grammar is better than mine. Your handwriting couldn’t be any worse. I’ve still got the notebooks to prove it.
I miss being you sometimes. A lot, actually.
I miss being angry like you. Sure, I still get mad. But it’s a mellow kind of mad, the kind that blows over in an hour or so. But damn I miss that anger overload. Kicking the motherfuckin’ world right in the motherfuckin’ ball sack. I miss the energy of that anger, how all-encompassing it was, how it felt coursing through my blood, making my skin hot to the touch.
I miss the absolute confidence I had that I was going to be someone special. Knowing that I was just biding my time; in coffee shops, in vintage clothing stores, scrounging around used book shops, harassing boring assholes on the street, until that incredible moment when my destiny would take shape and I’d unleash my brilliance on the world. Yeah. That’s right. The world was gonna take it and like it from me and it was gonna be revolutionary.
Of course, I can’t say I’ve achieved that. No revolutions bear my name. You won’t find my face on anyone’s t-shirt. And it gets harder and harder to capture that feeling once you leave your teen years behind.
That’s why I love you, Bitchy Teenage Girl, no matter how much I annoy you. A relationship doesn’t get much more unrequited than this one. We’re connected, even though I’ll never see you again. You made a lasting impression, even though you don’t remember me at all.
So keep telling women like me to fuck off. Do us a favor and raise that middle finger high and proud. We need to know you’re out there. We need the calming certainty of teenage rebellion. You have no idea how much we want to hear you scream and shout into the sky. Remember—sometimes those sensible shoes are just a disguise.