Turning 17…Again

Today was her 17th birthday. My son’s girlfriend. She’s been talking about it for weeks, and even had a count-down clock on her Instagram. Seventeen. It’s a big year. It’s a year filled with the anticipation of what’s to come. Driver’s License. College Applications. High School graduation. And a blank slate of life outstretched before you.

We’ve talked for weeks about what she wants to do with her future…a smart girl with plans. I like it. So many options. So much to look forward to. We talked about savoring every minute because it goes by so fast. We talked about how she’s coming into the best time of her life. And it got me thinking about when I turned seventeen.

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I had been dating my high school sweetheart (on and off and on again) for two years. I had just passed my driving test, and got my license. I failed my first driving test because I didn’t turn around during the 3-point turn. The instructor yelled at me to get out of the car, and get into the passenger seat, and proceeded to tell me that by not looking behind me before making a 3-point turn, I could have killed someone. You bet your arse I turn around now! But I digress…

Looking back, I remember all of it. I remember the proposal on Christmas Eve, in front of my entire family…on video tape. My mom, sprinting across the room to see the ring. I remember the call from his mother, saying she didn’t approve, and the break up soon after.

I remember my first real job at Allstate Insurance, after turning down two scholarships, because I wanted to work – and how happy was I, to work with my dad. We used to stop in at the café next door to the office, and get a slice of coffee cake with melted butter. I swear it was the best thing I’d ever eaten.

I remember wearing blue and pink eye shadow (yes, together, at the same time), I remember loving Lionel Richie, WHAM! and Madonna. I remember crazy big hair, Aqua Net hair spray, and MTV.

Back when I was seventeen, I had no idea what my life would turn out to be. And while I’ve certainly faced adversity, heart break, and loss, I have also had immeasurable joy. I’ve met people along the way who I am blessed to still call ‘friend.’ I’ve had the honor of speaking on the steps of the State House, as a survivor of domestic abuse. I’ve had the pleasure of singing during closing ceremonies, of a billion dollar corporation. I’ve written books and blogs. I’ve sung on stage and in the quiet of my child’s bedroom.

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When I left my boutique, and headed home, I thought about her birthday. Today’s the day. I decided to stop at the local gourmet cupcake shop, and picked up an assortment of awesomeness for her. When I got in, I filled the hallway and kitchen with Happy Birthday streamers and all things birthday decorations. I wrapped her present and put it next to the cupcake display, and when she walked in after school, and into the kitchen, I yelled, “HAPPY BIRTHDAY” and started clapping. I will never forget the look on her face, or how hard she hugged me when she left.

And while I don’t know where this new relationship will go, I am grateful that I got to be a small part of her seventeenth birthday. And should she reminisce someday, I hope it’s one of her best memories.

Happy 17th Birthday, Taylor.

Day 6 of 365

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