Through the lens of small town living, let’s celebrate the beauty, mystery, joy, humor and significance of moments big and small which strung together, constitute life. These moments - this moment - are your life. Make them count.

Sixteen Again

Sixteen Again

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It’s a weekday morning at 8:15am and I’m hurrying across the parking lot of our local Dunkin’ Donuts with my head down hoping no one I know will see me.  I’m a healthy eater, usually; one of those really annoying ones who talks about it.  Safely inside it’s as if Lindsay Lohan is working the counter the way I’m angling for a better view.  I’ve come in search of a unicorn, a single low calorie donut that eats like a bakers dozen - the highest possible flavor-to-calorie ratio - but I can’t get a good look what with all the teenagers in front of me.  They stand haphazardly in leggings and Chardon High letter jackets deep in conversation, tossing their hair, scrolling on their phones and ordering iced lattes flavored like Girl Scout cookies with enough calories to make my head spin.  Finally it’s my turn.  I order a glazed chocolate cake donut, 340 calories, and pay in cash.  Leave no trace.  

I eat my contraband in the car with the heat cranked to eighty degrees and seat warmer set to third degree burn watching the snow blow sideways out the front window.  I’m not hiding I say to myself in defense when the letter jacket and I make eye contact as she gets into the adjacent car.  I prefer to eat my donuts in a blow dryer.  This could be a cry for help.

Stifling a snarky inner monologue I remind myself it wasn’t so long ago that I was a teenager.  Never one to wax poetic on those years of high metabolism but low self-esteem, I was fortunate enough to meet my future husband, Sean, at sixteen and also am blessed that my best girl friend from high school is still a big part of my life.  Yet in determining which side of the fence is greener I’m inclined to tread lightly on the one that’s freshly seeded.  The best is yet to come.  In other words, I peaked late.  Overall my forward looking perspective has served me well.  That is, until last week when it completely and utterly failed me.

“You know your license is expired, right?”

Sean is upstairs finishing our taxes.  I snatch my license from his hand and hold it close to my face; blink, blink again.  This can’t be right.  These kinds of things don’t happen to me.  I’m not one to let things slip.  To the contrary, I monitor e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g.  My iPhone calendar would terrify most people.  And yet, there it is plain as day; my license expired on my birthday, January 13th.  It’s February 5th.

Immediately I launch into crisis management mode.  It’s an oversight, sure, but minor in the grand scheme.  I’ll just head over to the BMV, wait in line for an hour, smile apologetically, pay a fee, take a bad picture and be on my way (God laughs and the heavens quake).  After waiting a disappointing two minutes - at least pause to act like you’re considering things - I’m informed my expired out-of-state license will require me to sit for the driving exam and, wait for it, the road test.  The testing center having closed for the day, I fumed as I drove home, cautiously, illegally.  Just like that I was sixteen again.

The next morning I walk begrundgingly into the testing center, a room bathed in vanilla from the linoleum floors to the laminate countertops.  Posters line the walls; diagrams of the maneuverability test, warnings about texting and driving, DUI’s, seatbelts.  A bank of computers huddle in the corner at the far end of the room.  I try to appear nonchalant but inside I wonder what if I don’t pass?  Is that even possible?  It occurs to me I’m in the same shopping center as my son’s karate studio.  Somehow this makes it worse.  Somehow I’m Jamie Lee Curtis and this is Freaky Friday.  

Tell me again what was fun about being sixteen?  True, my only real responsibilities were good grades and making my bed.  What’s so great about that?  As a once-was and soon-to-be card carrying adult I don’t have to make my bed if I don’t want to.  It just so happens that I like to, even if it’s 11pm and I’m about to go to sleep, especially then.  Only the tyrant in the mirror tells me what to do thank you very much!  

In the end I pass the driving exam and road test with ease but not without some serious nerves.  My only regret, apart from the obvious, is that I drove my Tahoe when there was a Mini Cooper in the garage.  Performing the manueverability test in that beast is like playing a high stakes game of Operation.  I could creep foward alright but reversing around a bend in a course seemingly designed for a Fiat with the backup sensor beeping (deduct two points if you nudge a cone) was enough to make my palms sweat.  Oh yeah, I find it humorous, now.  I waited my turn for the road test between two people who couldn’t yet vote, toured around my neighborhood with a strange man in the passenger seat directing me with hand signals, drove a full 24 hours on a learner’s permit and celebrated my restored legality with a burger at Maple City Taps.  What?  I needed a pick me up.  Get in loser, we’re going shopping.  Needless to say I’ve set a notification on my calendar for 2023.

Deduct two points if you’ve turned this post into a Lindsay Lohan drinking game.

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