The Time of Your Life
I am the nineteen I never got to be. Or at least I have spent my whole life, since nineteen, trying to be. The nineteen that would have come with an old school education, associating with a certain kind of company, not being bullied, not living in the wrong city.
The heart strives to be corrective. Or else maybe it just can't let go. My nana was always nineteen too, but differently from me - her nineteen was some half a century before mine, after all. She seemed to live as if she was holding on to the innocence of the months before the war. Back when my grandfather walked her home from dances under stars; back before he experienced something in Asia that silenced him. For me, nineteen was when I got to university, after two years waitressing to pay the bills, and discovered the Wild Swans of Coole, and French history, and learned that you can read all the books you want but it's the reading them in coffee shops on rainy days that matters; it's the talking poems with like-minded people - it's about you, not your books.
I never sat in coffee shops (impoverished student) or chatted poetry (shy young woman at a university which had no social or hobby clubs). I'm still working on being nineteen, and maybe after that I'll grow up.
Except this idea of growing up, growing old ... maid, mother, the other one ... it's as if we are as linear as we suppose time is. But I don't believe in that. I say we're layered, and the face we are right now isn't necessarily who we are in our heart. I know you've met men who don't seem to be more than twelve. And sixteen year old grandmothers, dancing in the kitchen on a Friday night. And children who are fifty inside.
What age are you? What year of your life mattered that much?