Why I Wouldn't Be Sixteen Again If You Paid Me

Oh Internet, I hope you're buckled in, because this is going to be one wild ride. I've told you a little bit about how Sean and I met, I think, but I'm not sure I've gone into it in as much detail as is warranted. I don't think you've really felt the pain of my 16-year-old self sufficiently yet, and since this month marks the anniversary of the ELEVEN YEARS I have now known Sean, we're going to take a little trip back in time. 

Join me, if you will, in Darien, Connecticut, July 1996, when I'd just returned home from boarding school in England to spend the summer vacation with my family.  

At this point, I feel that there should be some sort of visual representation of me at 16, but sadly I can't find a photograph. I can tell you, however, that I had braces on my teeth, mousy shoulder-length hair that I doused liberally with Sun-In, and an expression that was permanently set to Bershon Beyond Belief. Sean, on the other hand, was really seriously hot---well, for 1996, anyway. Here is his driver's license, which he got renewed the day we met. He'd just turned 20 a few weeks before---an older man! the scandal!---and had obviously been listening to some serious Pearl Jam right before the shutter snapped. 

sean circa 1996

Anyway, as I was saying, I was home for the summer vacation---my first ever in the States---and I was determined to make it THE BEST SUMMER EVER. What was my mission? My mission was to meet a boy. Because boys, you see, were few and far between at my all-girls boarding school in the English countryside; sure, we all lusted after David Charvet and Jon Bon Jovi, but a real live boy? We didn't really have a clue what one was.

And so my goal for the summer of 1996, my sixteenth on the planet, was not only to meet a boy, but to meet An American Boy. I aimed high, I tell you. My best friend Anna had come to stay with me---yes, the one who has a baby now---and our boy-hunting arena of choice was the local beach, a tiny half-moon of sand and surf that faced out into the Long Island Sound. Angsty teens often went there at sunset to sit on the rocks and write terrible poetry bemoaning the fact that Daddy had bought them a silver Mercedes instead of a champagne-colored one, and it was at this beach that Anna and I were supposed to be meeting some boy Anna knew, Jay, who actually never showed up.

What's that? This story is boring? Oh, that must be because I'm telling it with the detachment and clarity of someone who is now eleven years older and wiser, someone who never thought that the scruffy skater boy she obsessed over so many summers ago would one day turn into the slightly harassed 31-year-old she now chides for never wiping down the kitchen counters. I think what we need here is AN ACTUAL RECORD of the first flush of teenage infatuation, an as-it-happened log of how, exactly, I knew this man was the one from the moment I set eyes on him. My diaries from 1996? Why, yes, I do have them! I have them right here, in fact! How funny you should ask. Let's take a peek, shall we?

July 28, 1996 "......So Jay never showed up because he thought the concert was canceled, but we did meet several more people, and kind of had fun hanging out with them. This guy turned up, riding a bike, and he had curly dark blonde hair, nice eyes, and looked kind of Irish. He was pretty good-looking and there was something about him I liked, but I didn't know what yet. He was called Sean and he seemed really shy."

And what about our first conversation? Ever wonder what that was about?

"...He said "thanks" a couple of times when I threw him the hackysack he'd dropped, and finally we had a very short conversation. This girl Sharon was in a fight with this girl Melissa and as she punched her (ed note: wow, Sharon was hardcore!), Sean and I turned to each other and went "wow," then he went "I didn't actually think she'd do it!" and I said something like "no, nor did I!" Then as she came back, I went "is she laughing or crying?" and he went "I think she's laughing." Later, he was on the phone when I was trying to call my parents to come pick me up (ed note: payphones! how quaint!) and I was thinking "I hope he's not talking to his girlfriend." I think then I realized that I quite liked him, but not that much."

Are we all okay? Did we all survive that cloud of teenage turmoil and self-doubt? Oh good, because there's more. A few days later, Anna and I went back to the beach to meet Jay again---who did, to his credit, turn up this time---and it was then that things got really exciting.....

".....We were sitting on a bench, waiting for Jay, and Anna suddenly said "is that Sean over there?" I thought she was joking, or trying to cheer me up, but she was right! It WAS Sean! He rode over on his bike, circled around and went "hey!" to us, then rode back over to his friends. And I was like "wow! Sean said hi to us!" and then Jay showed up, and I forgot that I was angry at Anna, and Anna explained the Sean situation to Jay."

But what happened next? No, seriously, sixteen-year-old Holly, how did you decide to pursue this boy you liked? What cunning methods of flirtation did you use?

"...So we came up with a subtle plan to walk over to him and say hi. But we walked over.....and then back again, without talking to him. Anna was desperate because she wanted to hang out with Jay, so she marched over to Sean and his friends AGAIN, with me tagging behind, and said "Hi....Sean, right?" Then she "subtly" excused herself to go and get a drink of water, and Jay tagged along, and this was my cue to stay and talk to Sean, but I couldn't. So I said "I think I'll get some water, too" and I followed Anna, and she said "HOLLY! THE POINT WAS THAT YOU STAYED AND TALK TO HIM!" She only had 25 minutes to hang out with Jay, so she FORCED me to go back and talk to Sean, so in a very un-me fashion, I confidently strolled over and gave some line about Anna and Jay wanting to be alone and me not wanting to feel left out, and was it okay to hang out with them for a while?"

And? And? I'm sure you're on the edge of your seat!

"...They all said sure, and maybe it was my imagination, but Sean sounded the most enthusiastic. So I actually SAT DOWN next to Sean and basically just listened in on their conversation! Sometimes I think Sean was looking at me, and sometimes he talked directly JUST to me."

Oh Internet, if only you knew how many times now I wish he wasn't talking directly JUST to me, times when he says things like "isn't it your turn to unload the dishwasher?" and "hey, one of the cats just puked."

So there it is: my teenage soul laid bare on the eleventh anniversary of meeting Sean. And now I'd like you to do me a favor---go and grab the closest 16-year-old girl you can find and give her a big hug. Tell her the boy she likes right now probably won't turn out to be the love of her life, he'll probably just be the ass that makes out with her best friend at junior prom, but that there's a small chance---a very, very small chance---that he actually will become everything she wants him to become. Perhaps, eleven years from now, he'll wake up before her every morning and bring her coffee when the alarm goes off, or drive her car to the garage at 7am to get the smashed window fixed, or admit that yes, he fell in love with her the minute he saw her all those years ago on the beach too, braces and all. And if he does, if he turns out to be someone worth keeping, you make sure you tell her how lucky she is, how it hardly ever works out like that, how incredibly rare and magical it is when it does.

Jul 25, 2007

Delicious story! When he informs you that the cat has just puked, you can think of how the 16-year-old you would have reacted if only you'd known that someday -- SOMEDAY! -- you'd share cats and bills and morning coffee and with this cute, shaggy-haired boy on a bike. Ahhh... That's *real* romance.

Jul 25, 2007

Love this story! I am now married and have had two kids with the guy I had a serious crush on when I was 16. I too count myself very lucky that that same grungy guy with whom I went to see all those bands with now happily listen to The Wiggles for the 50th time on the demands of our daughters & plays Barbie instead of the guitar.

Jul 25, 2007

Lovely. I remember when I was 16. Ugh. Have you read the book "Mortified"? Diaries of young people (who are currently older). It is quite funny.

Jul 25, 2007

Nice story! I'm always amazed when people have kept diaries from their childhood and teenage years. Because I had this terrible habit of writing things down then re-reading them a few days later and tearing the pages out because OMG if anyone read that how embarrassing! It sure would be funny to read them now.

Jul 25, 2007

Great story. I wish I would've kept diaries from 'back in the day' as well. Or at least the emails that were sent to me by my now husband.

Jul 25, 2007

Just found your blog, and I absolutely love it. This post had me laughing out loud and snorting(I can't control it, its just what I do). The angst! I could feel it! I think I may have scared the girl I share an office with... but oh well.

jive turkey
Jul 25, 2007

Now, while my favorite written-word snapshot from your past is still your letter to Sara Gilbert, this is also incredibly sweet and funny. I kept a diary back when I met my now-husband, and I love to go back and remember all those things that were running through my head at the time.

Jul 25, 2007

How wonderful that you are still in possession of that driver's license, and your journal. Hilarious story...which reminds me that you might be a perfect candidate for Mortified. There are upcoming events in SF on Aug. 17th & 18th...I hear they are pretty damn funny...

Jul 25, 2007

He brings you coffee every morning? You are one lucky girl.
Great story, by the way.

Jul 25, 2007

I feel I have to apologize to Sean for the loud, snorting laughter that might have been somewhere in my vicinity when I pulled up your page and saw that picture. Before I even read the accompanying post (my toast was up and buttering cold toast is somewhat unpleasant), I stood by the toaster and tried to think of what such bouffant, multi-colored curls were calling to mind. A pink album cover, black leggings under jean shorts, angst-ridden hands reaching toward the sky - yes! Pearl Jam! And I went back to read your post and, lo, it was so.


Jul 25, 2007

Wait - Sean was 20 and he was riding a BIKE? I think he just lost some cool points.

Also, I am a Connecticut native and had that same license. Well, not that exact same license, because I never looked like Eddie Vedder and I am only 5'4. What was your family doing vacationing in Darien? That's not a real touristy part of the state.

Nothing But Bonfires
Jul 25, 2007

We weren't vacationing. We lived there from 1995 until 2001.

Jul 25, 2007

Aww, so sweet. Congratulations to you both.

Jul 25, 2007

I am also with my first "puppy" love that I met 15 years ago. I'm 30 & he's 32, we ran into each other a little over a year ago. We had not seen each other in about 10 years. It's amazing that you can still have the same feelings as you did at 15!! I am so in love!!

Jul 25, 2007

"And now I’d like you to do me a favor—go and grab the closest 16-year-old girl you can find and give her a big hug."

OK, done.

Now, her dad's coming up the sidewalk with a Glock and a couple of cops. I wasn't able, in the meantime, to articulate the essence of the rest of the message. Any suggestions? Quickly?

j/k. I married my high school sweetheart - our first date was in November, 1966, I a senior and she a sophomore - and it's interesting seeing the transaction through a girl's lens. I'm glad you kept your old diaries!

Jul 25, 2007

How adorable! I spent years wishing that I could have had a relationship like this- I guess that there's still plenty of time.

Jul 25, 2007

I, too, was wondering about the twenty-year-old with a bike thing, but I'll let that one pass since he makes you coffee and all that...

A mere nine days after you met Sean I got married, which means when you met your true love I was busy trying to get my true love's mother to stop inviting people to our little soirée. Frankly, if I had written any of that drama down I'd have been forced to burn the pages immediately. Still, it all turned out right in the end, as it did for you. Thanks for sharing with us-- even if it does make me feel impossibly old.

Jul 25, 2007

Holly, I love this story. I love hearing stories about how people met. Interesting ones. Like "I was sixteen and he, twenty" How in the world did your parents okay that one??!! My dad would've shot him!!
Good for you! Eleven years and going strong. Happy anniversary of meeting Sean!

Jul 25, 2007

That was magical - thanks for sharing!

hello insomnia
Jul 25, 2007

Great story. I wish I could go back to my 16-year-old self and say, "GET OVER IT!" And then I would give myself a hug.

Jul 25, 2007

Let us compare your 16-year old crush (adorably story, by the way!) with my 16-year old crush.

Crush #1: I am actually having dinner with him and his wife tonight, and will probably be expected to hold is daughter and make appropriate "she's so cute!" comments... why do I do this to myself?

Crush #2: Is still my best friend, the crush has died, although he is in love for the first time with a girl with MY SAME NAME.... irony, no?

Jul 25, 2007

oh my god, you made my day. happy anniversary!

Jul 25, 2007

Awww, what a sweet story. I still have my journals that I wrote in from way back in the angst filled highschool years, even a few from junior highschool. Ugh, they are horrible. I haven't looked into them for a long time now. Maybe 7 or 8 years. Very whiney, and full of anger and sadness. I'm so glad those years passed me up. And, no, I didn't end up with the guy I liked when I was 16. But I do see him a couple of times a year, and, to his credit, he is a very nice guy, married to a very nice pretty lady, with two adorable tots.

Jul 25, 2007

Aww..that's a great story.

Hackeysack! Yes. That is so freakin' hilarious..I remember many a-times being about 11 (in 96) and chunky with freckles and super-curly hair tossing the hackey sack to some cute boy and OMG-ing if he smiled at me. I have a boy cousin 3 years older than me so I got to tag along a lot, and embarrass myself.

Nothing But Bonfires
Jul 25, 2007

He didn't JUST have a bike -- he had a car as well. But the beach was near his house, so he used to ride his bike up there all the time.

As for how I got around the I'm-16-he's-20 thing, we didn't actually start dating until I was 18 and he was 21 (almost 22) -- we were just friends until then. So at THAT point I probably told my parents how old he was, and by then it didn't matter.

And for the record, I didn't tell Sean I was 16 for ages either.

Jul 25, 2007

Oh! The drama! I crack up whenever I read my old journals. The boy crush stories are the best. Today, I saw him in the hallway. Today, I think he looked at me. Today, I'm no longer in love with so and so, I'm in love with this other dude. Too funny.

Jul 25, 2007

That was great! It gave me flashbacks to being a teenager. [Shivers] And I have to say I especially enjoyed the journal entries where you wrote "I went...and then he went". It is the ultimate teen journal style of writing!

Jul 25, 2007

Holly - I love the anniversary story! But what I think is grossly unfair is how your lovely, coffee bringing, car taking in man gets better looking with age. And I know that you were equally adorable with all of your 16 year old angst! While I am in the former group of people not married to their first love (he is married to the girl he dated in high school after me) the love I have with my husband can make me behave like I am 16 again - squeeing over a smooshy email or having my heart skip when he holds my hand.

Love the post and congratulations on your anniversary!

Jul 25, 2007

I can't believe 1996 was 11 years ago. I feel ridiculously old.

Mixed Up Me
Jul 25, 2007

You are one lucky girl! Congratulations on your 11th anniversary of meeting Sean. He sounds like a great guy. I hope you have a fabulous day!!

Jul 25, 2007

Phil! You read Nothing but Bonfires!! And Moose, is the same Moose who reads Gasoline Hobo!!! Such an intricate web this internet.

This is a very wonderful story, Holly. Definitely made me go "Awwww" :-)

Jul 25, 2007

That is fantastic! My husband and I met in 1996 too (September we started dating) We were both 17... it's crazy to look back and think of how young we were, and now we're married and have a house and a baby, for Lord's sake!

Oh how I wish I had my diaries from when I was 16... they would have totally read just like yours... haha

Jul 25, 2007

That's so fabulous. Man, that seems just like my journal from back then too! But mine has more "like's" then I'd wish to remember.

My boyfriend and I went to high school together (didn't start dating till about 6 years later) and we were discussing the other night how we went to prom - and sat at the same table, but we each had other dates. If only we had a picture together to prove it!

Jul 25, 2007

awwww that is the best story ever.

Jul 26, 2007

So very sweet, congrats to you both!

cartoon goddess
Jul 26, 2007

Holly, what a sweet story! Happy anniversary!

Jul 26, 2007

This was the best post I've read in a while, anywhere. The last paragraph reminded me of Shopgirl.

Jul 26, 2007

Aww, I think that's even more adorable than high school sweethearts, somehow. Happy anniversary!

Jul 26, 2007

I loved your story. Very sweet and innocent. . .made me giggle my butt off!

PS. Happy Anniversary

JB at Twice Five Miles
Jul 26, 2007

What I love the most is 16-year-old Holly's use of the word "subtle."

While I was many things at 16, I think I can safely say that "subtle" was not one of them.

Jul 26, 2007

awesome. i would give anything to have my journals from high school. i've been with my man since I was 15 (14 years), so I too have the fond memories of teen angst that I can share with him. plenty of bershon pics as well. :)

Jul 27, 2007

Great story. Happy Anniversary!

Jul 27, 2007

I'm a 16-year-old girl, I feel in love for the first time this summer (an older boy no less) and he made-out with my best friend. And I still hope he'll become everything I want him to be. So I agree, you couldn't pay me to do this again.

Jul 27, 2007

omg - this boy better propose to you! stat! :)

Heather B.
Jul 28, 2007

That might be the sweetest thing ever or maybe I'm still drunk? Actually, it is so freaking cute I want to pinch you both.

Jul 28, 2007

Aw, that just gave me little happy chills.

Jul 28, 2007

Please tell me you didn't say "nor" aloud? Or "quite"? At sixteen? Really? Because I thought I was the only one who did that.

Awwww to this whole story.

Jul 28, 2007

Oh, this story makes me wish I had kept diaries when I was a teenager.

And I do love a happy ending :-)

Jul 30, 2007

This is a comment really intended for a prior posting about the movie Music and Lyrics. I had no desire to see that movie until I read your *glowing* review and how horrible it was to have that song, that horrible song, stuck in your mind. Some twisted sense of morbid curiosity pulled at me until I did, I watched it... even paid money to rent it so that I could watch it. And you're right. terrible movie, horrible music, and what an embarrassing display by Hugh Grant. And it's stuck in my mind, I can't get that song out of my mind. Please please PLEASE don't lead me to any more horrible things like that. I can't help myself, lick a moth to the flame. Please only write about good things.

(kidding on that last sentence)

Jul 30, 2007

Um, I meant "like a moth to the flame," ....nothing about licking at all, and no, that most definitely wasn't a freudian slip, thank you.

Jul 30, 2007

I'm now going to confess that I have filled up no fewer than three (3) A5 sized (you know the ones I mean) Moleskins (lined) with the messages that TMAME and I have been sending to one another.

There may also be a lot of self-doubt and "oh my god, he's actually left the marital home" in there as well...but it's all written. In longhand.

My right wrist hasn't been this supple since A-levels.

Nomes - still a 16yr old girl on the inside.

Wacky Mommy
Jul 30, 2007

i love that story.

Aug 01, 2007

Happy anniversary! That was a lovely, angsty story.