Archived Story

A conversation with my younger self

Published 1:33pm Saturday, May 14, 2011

Column: Pass the Hot Dish, by Alexandra Kloster

I wonder if my editor noticed how my face started twitching when he suggested the idea for this column.

He was talking about the way teenagers write, “never change” in each other’s yearbooks and wondering what would happen if we indeed failed to evolve from who we were then. That line from “The Godfather Part III” (the movie where Michael Corleone’s hair tries to leave the family) raced through my mind. “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.”

Alexandra Kloster

I rarely get nostalgic about high school. For me it was like the first hour of every 1980s teen movie. Teen Wolf still plays lousy basketball, waxing on and off eludes the Karate Kid, times are slow at Ridgemont High, and the only name on Molly Ringwald’s dance card is Farmer Ted.

It’s difficult for me to recall one day of high school that I didn’t feel unsure of myself, anxious and out of place. I marveled at the few fully formed human beings roaming the halls. They appeared to be functioning and having fun in that viper pit of hormones. Possessed of poise, self-assurance, maybe even a little wisdom, they were strange, chimeric. They were unicorns in Guess jeans and shaker sweaters.

One of those unicorns was my friend Tracie. She was smart and pretty but had a sense of humor that kept her grounded. She wore her popularity like a backward baseball cap. It was there, but only as an afterthought. How I wanted to be like her, but Tracie always told me how great I was just being myself until finally I had to believe her.

What a gift. I wish every insecure girl had a Tracie to look up to and admire. I wonder if she knows that she made a tough time a little easier for me. I wonder if she knows what a difference she made.

Even with Tracie in my corner, I struggled. I may have looked confident, the way I do in a vegan restaurant or a clothing store with no petite section, but I was lost.

I wish I could offer some advice to my teenage self. I wish I could tell her that nothing stays the same no matter what the yearbooks say. Everything changes. When she feels like she can’t bear to feel tomorrow what she feels today, I would tell her this:

Dear Ali,

I know the future scares you, but it’s OK. There are no jetpacks, so you don’t have to worry about your fear of heights just yet.

Stop daydreaming in geometry class about that boy they call Gomer. You’re never going to be Mrs. Gomer, but you will need to know geometry someday. (Just kidding. You’re never going to need geometry.)

That big computer in the library? You might want to learn how to use that for more than playing “Oregon Trail.”

You are not one of the kids from “Fame.” The next time you’re tempted to break into song at lunchtime, remember how hard Jolly Ranchers and cherry Blow Pops are to get out of your perm.

Those notes you forge when you ditch typing class are coming back to bite you. It’s the one where you claim Jo Anne Worley was holding you hostage inside the “Laugh-In” joke wall that finally gets you busted.

Why did you take French and Spanish in the same semester? You can’t go around saying, “Hola, Jacques! Bon anniversaire! Quantos anos tienes tu? Au revoir, esse!” Stop trying to make Franish happen.

You will look 12 for the next 10 years and all the blue eye shadow in the world isn’t going to change that. It only makes you look like a contestant in one of those toddler beauty pageants.

Believe me when I tell you that everything’s going to be OK. No, you won’t get any taller, but you will start to feel more comfortable with who you are. One day you’ll lift your head up and throw your shoulders back and you won’t be faking it. When people write “never change” in your yearbook, right next to it you write, “This too shall pass,” because it will.

Love,

Ali

PS: Tell Daddy to buy Microsoft stock, lots of it.

Woodbury resident Alexandra Kloster appears each Sunday. She may be reached at alikloster@yahoo.com, and her blog is Radishes at Dawn at alexandrakloster.com.