I think this post will work best if I just go ahead and confess to you what inspired it; I spied on my teenage daughter. Relax, there’s no tracking device on her cell phone or a camera in her bedroom. I’m not that insane, but she’s seventeen, doesn’t like to talk to me or her mom about much, and in a few months she’s leaving for college. So, I check out her Twitter, put an ear to her bedroom door when I go put away towels or say goodnight to her two younger sisters, and I pay attention when she talk to her friends when they come over. Here’s the intelligence I’ve been able to gather; she wants to grow up as soon as possible and it scares her, a lot.
I’ve spent most of my adult life trying to forget my teen years. They weren’t great. As a writer, I’ve shared a letter to my eighteen-year-old self https://lancemyblogcanbeatupyourblog.wordpress.com/2011/12/28/onlyamemory/ , waxed nostalgic about my 25th high school reunion https://lancemyblogcanbeatupyourblog.wordpress.com/2013/08/18/nothinbutagoodtime/ , and came to a grand understanding with my mixed bag of a past. But having a seventeen-year-old girl in my life makes me think about that time when I was finishing my senior year of high school, applying to colleges, getting acceptance letters, and twitching with bittersweet excitement about my future.
Occasionally I have talks with my daughter. I run my mouth about whatever deal is going on in our lives, she smirks while watching television over my shoulder, lets me hug her and have an “I love you too” back as I leave her room, and I always feel better about us. I’m sure she texts one of her friends about being unavailable for a few minutes while her dork dad was talking to her. If I’d had a smart phone in December 1987, it’s what I would’ve done.
One of the things my daughter and I have in common is a freakish love of music. We listen to different stuff. Right now, she “has Drake on repeat tonight” and I’m blaring The Descendants epic 1982 punk album Milo Goes To College. But we both appreciate music as an important component of our existence. I always knock on her door before I go in for our talks. The main reason is the last two times I forgot to knock I walked in on her dancing and singing to her favorite songs. I hated when my parents busted me playing air guitar like Slash or moving like Jagger. I think this is why she doesn’t sigh, roll her eyes and death stare me when I ask for another one-sided in depth discussion about her future or whatever is on our minds. She knows I’m respecting her right to tune up, tune out, and tune in.
Later this week, my daughter, her mom, and I are visiting another college. It happens to be the first school that sent her an acceptance letter, offer a significant scholarship, and it’s only twenty minutes away from where we live, now. This is probably a huge con for her and places it down the list but maybe after our visit she’ll find a cool dorm room that she can dance to Drake in and start the next four years of her life.
After my talk earlier with my daughter, I started thinking about the first of December, 1987. I’d been seventeen for three months. My first couple of college acceptance letters fluttered on a small wooden nightstand next to my twin beds. Cassettes of Guns N Roses Appetite For Destruction, Pink Floyd’s A Momentary Lapse of Reason, and INXS Kick splayed on my floor while I tried to snake dance like Axl Rose, air guitar like Dave Gilmour, or wish I was half as good-looking as Michael Hutchence. My dad knocked on my door, came in and talked with me about how serious I was about going to college at big school in or out-of-state. I pretended to listen and while watching pro wrestling on WTBS behind his shoulder on a tiny television (cable and MTV was on the TV in the living room, only). After he left, I did the version of 1987 Twitter and scrawled in one of my notebooks, “I just want to get out of here”. I’m sure I’ll see that on my daughter’s Twitter timeline one day and it will make me smile more than get angry. I’ll understand her, completely.
Here’s Hutchence and INXS. The lyrics mean something totally different to me, today. My daughter’s life is a New Sensation, all the time, these days.
Are you looking for something interesting and music driven to read? I have two for you. My books, The Ballad of Helene Troy, an underdog story about a female musician in New York City, and Soul To Body, about an ex-1990s guitar player trying to raise his teenage daughter after the death of his wife, her mother, are available, digitally, on Amazon.com for your kindles, and in paperback from Lulu.com