It is extremely rare that it happens, but occasionally I will have a moment of wishing I was Teen Me again. Trust me when I say that it is extremely rare, because even when I was Teen Me, I couldn’t ever understand why people thought being in their teens was a good thing. I was not a happy teenager. I may have looked it on the outside, but on the inside I was a dark, angry, ink scribble mess. I was shy, depressed, anxious, and was filled with the fear of people not liking me, or hurting me.
But when that rare occasion that I wish I was Teen Me again crops up, it will happen during the summer.
From the age of 9 months, until I was old enough to be stupid and want to stay HOME, we spent every summer a Marine Village on the shores of Lake Champlain in upstate NY. All. Summer. My mother didn’t work, and my grandparents were retired. We started out just renting one of the cottages there, and then in 1988 my parents bought us a trailer, and my grandparents switched to renting a mobile home. Once we had our own place, we’d open it up over the May long weekend, and spend every weekend there until school was out. That’s when my mum, sister, and my grandparents, would relocate for the summer until school started again after Labour Day. My dad would come down on weekends, and use his vacation time during the summer.
I want to go back and be Teen Me in the Summer because I want to tell myself that I don’t have to fear everything, and I can have fun. I wish I could have enjoyed myself more and not look back at these photos and wish that I hadn’t been so reserved, so shy, so sad.
These were the days before internet, and before social media. You kept in touch with friends by writing letters by hand. You went to the payphone at the laundry-mat near the entrance to the camp and used a dime (!!!) to call your summer friends and see if they wanted to hang out.
I was so insecure. I would hide away in the trailer and read, read, read, and listen to music and sing, sing, sing. So many summer friendships, summer crushes, summer days wasted because I was too shy to really participate in anything. I did, I just wasn’t really there in the moment. I was too busy inside my own head fretting over every little thing. “Did I do something wrong?” “Did I say something wrong?” “Maybe because I don’t like the same things, I’m not good enough.”
I was never a kid who liked to be with kids. While others my age were babysitting children, I was happily watching after people’s pets when they had to leave for a few days. I could spend my days in the water, on the docks, in the park, and be so happy just being outside. I would play with a few kids, but worry so much about what they thought of me, I never actually enjoyed most of that interaction. I long for those days now. I wish I could go back and just relax, and have FUN.
I hated myself then. I see teens of friends I have now and envy their confidence and ability to have fun. I always wanted that, and I could have had it if I wasn’t so scared of being me, or scared of being hurt by people I wanted to like me. (Who did like me, but I didn’t believe it at the time.) I’m not saying that teens today don’t have the same issues that all teens have had, it’s just that I see kids having fun and not worrying too much about it, and I wish I had been able to find that in myself when I was that age. I thought I was ugly. I thought I was fat. FAT! Do you see me in these photos? Good lord! Fat. Teen Me you were a ninny!
Does that body look fat to you? I only wore that bikini a handful of times, and mostly kept a shirt over myself to cover it up. I didn’t think I was pretty. I felt alone. I wasn’t alone at all, but I felt it.
The older I got, the less I wanted to come spend my summers down at the trailer. What I FOOL I was. Imagine, having almost 3 whole months to do nothing but be in the water, and outside in nature. There was a dairy farm across the street. I would go sit and watch the cows for hours. I loved it there. But my friends back home wanted to do things, and I thought if I was away for too long, they’d forget about me and I’d be back with no friends. (Foolish Teen Me, yet again!)
Those summers at Marine Village were the best. Literally. Even though I didn’t truly believe it at the time, I made so many friends, and so many happy memories out on Lake Champlain. Like how Lady used to somehow slip out of her collar, while tied up next to us in front of the trailer, and suddenly end up in the lake. She’d slither on her belly away from us and we’d only notice when a neighbour would come up and say, “hey, is that your dog in the water?” She did this a few times. It was hilarious. Spending weeks with your family can be tough, but we all did our own thing. I love spending evenings playing cards with my grandparents on their screen porch. I’d do crossward puzzles with them while looking out at the water.
I’d spend so much time in the water. I loved being in the water. Until I got a little older and felt the need to cover up my body at all times, and suddenly became terrified of being eaten by some evil fish hiding in the shadows. Oh, me. On really hot nights we would run down to the end of the dock, and jump in the water to cool off right before bed.
I wish I hadn’t thrown away those summers so easily. Getting to spend months on a beach, in the water, bike riding, walking, playing basketball and tennis in the park….those were the days. Now I save up vacation days and take time off and do nothing. It’s too expensive for us to go places, and it’s not quite the same. I miss those summers of nothing, but everything. Bon fires. Roasting marshmallows. Late nights walking around with your summer friends and just talking and staring at the stars.
I wish I was able to have really enjoyed it then, as I know I did enjoy it now. I want to go back with my self-confidence, and happy to be ME attitude, and let Teen Me in the Summer live her life to the fullest.
I want the girl who looks happy in these photos to actually BE happy in those photos. I want her to fully enjoy the summer friendships, the summer crushes. I want her to take chances, and have fun. I want her to stop worrying about doing something wrong, and just live her life in the moment.
Because Current Me? Current Me remembers those moments as being the only ones where she was happy being Teen Me. And during the summer it’s the only time I ever think about wanting to BE Teen Me once again. I miss Teen Me sitting out at the end of the dock, looking out over Lake Champlain, and writing songs. I miss Teen Me riding her bike around the camp, and up and down the road to the dead end, or to the corner store (that burnt down. Twice.). I miss Teen Me hanging out with her summer crush and hoping to see him out in his yard while I was out at the end of the dock. (Perfect vantage point, yo.) I miss Teen Me just sitting on the dock, staring at the water for hours. I miss swimming. I miss my grandparents. I miss my summers at Marine Village.
Current Me wishes she could go back and tell Teen Me in the Summer to just breath, smile, laugh. Have fun. Enjoy every second you’re out here in nature, and water, because adulting is hard work, and to get those carefree days back, you need to make a lot of money. Growing up too fast is not worth it. Be happy. You are loved. You are pretty. You sure as hell are NOT fat. You’re awesome Teen Me in the Summer. Enjoy your summer. Be free.