Can you remember who you were when you were sixteen?
Do you want to remember that version of yourself?
How much is your memory of the you of then coloured by who you are now, what you know now… about yourself, others, your life, the world?
It’s strange, isn’t it, the way we never leave our other selves behind… we carry them, those versions, phases, and stages of us, with us…
Sometimes they live within us very vividly…
Other times they fade away, only stirred by… a nostalgic something or other. A lighter shade of pale, painting it black, hotel California… or something like that.
A song which was popular then, maybe a favourite song we loved at that time, which meant something to us, when we hear it now it sometimes evokes who we were then… music stimulating past lives… but what is it that is stirred, what echoes and ghosts, what memory… is any of it real… anymore?
A song which was in the charts at the time of my bittersweet sixteen was:
If you love someone… set them free… that was the title and one of the lyrics which got me then. It was hopeful… of love meaning something other than bondage. Some of the other lyrics of that song hit closer to my home at that time.
“If it’s a mirror you want, just look into my eyes
Or a whipping boy, someone to despise
Or a prisoner in the dark
Tied up in chains you just can’t see
Or a beast in a gilded cage…”
- Sting, If You Love Someone Set Them Free lyrics
Being sixteen was not at all sweet for me, in fact that age was… a time of such utter and total crazy changes that…none of them sweet…
I will never forget that time, that age, yet I don’t really want to remember it… I have tried to blank it out, forget I was ever sixteen and made the kind of decisions about my life which I made…
I was never ‘only sixteen’… when I was sixteen.
The decisions which I made then were ones which adults sometimes encourage sixteen year olds to make in these modern times… yet those adults also tell sixteen year olds that they aren’t old enough to make those kind of life decisions.
It’s an age when contradictions come into focus more than ever before in our lives…
Make the decision… but you can’t make that kind of decision! Do it but don’t do it!
The adults in my life at that time were… a rather motley crew. Some weren’t adults inside of their adult shells. Some were… a-holes pretending to be anything but that. When an adult is caught up in being the smartest, goodest, adult in the world… even if you have teenage hormones coursing through your veins which make you bold, rebellious and reckless… best of luck dealing with a deluded adult like that! They’re more of a teenager than you are… you’ve still got a lot to learn about how age really works, it’s not as logical as you think it is.
And stuff like that…
Everyone one of the adults in my sixteen year old life at that time came down on me hard with their adult wisdom… they were slightly drunk on being superior to me, on talking down to me, as though through me they could reclaim the power which was taken away from them when they were my age by adults who were their age.
Whatever I said or did… whatever advice I sought, questions I asked… damned if I did, damned if I didn’t… just damned… because that’s a part of being that age… maybe…
You’ve been sixteen, you know how adults behave towards you at that age… your peers aren’t any better because every day counts, and if they’re slightly older than you, even by just an hour… they see themselves as adults compared to you…
If you’re an adult, you’ve probably done this kind of weird stuff to a teen of sixteen, taking your turn to do to others what was done to you. Maybe you watched and listened to yourself do it, and the sixteen year old inside of you who never went away… gasped, and kind of approved of it… even if it was a bit… you know…
Whatever age we are, we’re sort of still every age we’ve ever been… still trying to grow up in a world which keeps changing the parameters of what being grown up means… will we ever be that, reach that movable feast… will our parents ever acknowledge that we’re not their children anymore, do we want them to do that… what happens to us when we grow up?
“I’m the voice inside your head
You refuse to hear
I’m the face that you have to face
Mirrored in your stare
I’m what’s left, I’m what’s right
I’m the enemy
I’m the hand that will take you down
Bring you to your knees…”
- Foo Fighters, The Pretender
Life is… forever sicksteen with our candles burning down our house… fire within catching fire and setting fire to what’s ouside… or something like that.