Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Talking teenage years with J.L. Powers

I'm proud to welcome J.L. Powers to the blog today! On tour with her new book, This Thing Called the Future, she is stopping by to share a bit about her teenage years!

In this post we ask the author to share what we might find in a garage sale, if things from their teenage years were being cleaned out. Old shoes? Skates? Cassette tapes? Let's find out what we might find in J.L. Powers' teenage garage sale!

I lived my teenage years very badly. It wasn’t that I was a bad teen. And it wasn’t just that I wasn’t a “cool” teen. I just wasn’t much of a teenager. That came later, a delayed adolescence that occurred in my early twenties. When I was actually a teenager, I was simultaneously an innocent little girl and a responsible adult. As just an example, I was still desperately in love with Gilbert Blythe (from Anne of Green Gables) when I was sixteen, which was also the same year I moved out of my house and into a college dorm room to start college.

You see what I mean.

So if someone were to dig through my teen years for items to sell at a garage sale, here are some of the things they might find (not all of them would be items you could actually sell!):

1) All of L.M. Montgomery’s books, from Anne of Green Gables to Emily’s Quest to A Tangled Web. She was my favorite writer and I wished, oh, how I wished, I was Canadian. It seemed so romantic and so much more interesting than where I lived—the dusty, west Texas town of El Paso.

2) Opal earrings. My dad brought them back from Australia when I was twelve and I wore them to every special occasion and to church on Sundays. I still have them, though I haven’t worn them in years.

3) A Bible. I was hopelessly religious until I was twenty-three, an obnoxious “I should pray at least an hour a day and know the Bible backwards and forwards so I can quote it whenever the occasion arises” version of Christianity. Now I am just hopelessly muddled about spiritual issues, a condition I find intoxicating. I like that I can be open and respect others’ spiritual beliefs without having to define (or defend) my own.

4)  A poster of the Seychelles Islands. One of my dad’s graduate students gave it to me as a birthday present when I was thirteen and it followed me when I went to college. I loved the beauty of the ocean and white sands beach. In my hometown of El Paso, we had plenty of beach…just no water.

5) Notebooks filled with finished novels, written by hand. Pretty much all of them were cheesy romance novels for teens.

6) Clothes of different sizes—from size four to size ten. As a teenager, I didn’t know how to dress or even what size I was. I wore different sizes, depending on the day, and some clothes fit better than others. Most of my clothes were hand-me-downs, so if something fit, I wore it—even if it was baggy. I remember that I rolled down the waist of a skirt I loved to wear—not to make it shorter but so it wouldn’t fall off. I learned how to dress after college—not before.

7) A retainer. My braces were removed when I was twelve. But I faithfully wore my retainer for years afterward, all through my teen years. I carried that retainer with me whenever I traveled—it even went with me to Kenya when I was eighteen and spent the summer there working with street children. I took it to Australia and India and Uzbekistan and Mexico and Nicaragua. It broke when I was twenty-five and that’s when I finally stopped wearing it. Yeah, okay. I was a dork. Tell me something I don’t know.

8) A variety of mixed tapes. Of course I made mixed tapes for guys I secretly liked. I was too shy to flirt or let them know I liked them. So instead, I hoped that if they thought my taste in music was cool, maybe they’d fall in love with me. Ha! Yeah, it worked. Once.

9) A small opal ring with diamond chips, a “promise” ring given to me by my first boyfriend when I was sixteen. What ever happened to promise rings anyway? Does anybody do that anymore? I guess it’s kind of a weird idea to begin with: “We’re not engaged…but we’re ‘promised’ to be engaged someday if we’re still dating in a few years….” That didn’t work out so well for me.


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