The question of the day on Typepad is, "What did you do for your 16th birthday?" And the sad truth is, I have no idea.
I wish I'd understood the value of writing down the details. Keeping a private diary always felt too much like work. It's one of the reasons blogging appeals to me: Yes, I'm jotting down personal things, but there's a valuable interactivity to it. But I always associated a diary with Deep, Dark Secrets, and I wish I'd had a broader, smarter view back then of how my memory wasn't invincible, and how a journal could be an important record of even the little things. Like, say, what I did when I turned sixteen. I know we were living in Calgary. I'm sure I was taking driver's ed, preparing for my test (which I would fail by screwing up the parallel parking, and not getting a chance to do any other driving). I wasn't dating anyone.
Wait, that's a total lie, I was dating someone. Sort of. I just remembered. The summer between Grades 10 and 11, I did a program at Cambridge in England, with my best friend Heather from Florida. I took a class on British film genres and an SAT prep course, and something else that I don't remember, and I fell in love with a guy named Mike who lived in Washington, D.C., spoke fluent French because his mother was, had the only actual green eyes I've ever seen in my life, was 6'5", and was part Lebanese. God, he was hot. We dated that summer and then tried the long-distance thing — in those days, pining phone calls and letters — but after a surprisingly long run that year, it didn't end up working. It was my fault. I was visiting D.C. for Julie's college graduation, and suddenly, being 16 and having a boyfriend I never saw and was suddenly about to see… well, it felt a whole lot like pressure, and I balked. Which is a shame, because he ruled. Obviously, at this point in my life, I think I won out — I wouldn't trade Kevin for ten Mikes — but he was infinitely more awesome than the guys in my class that I subsequently dated.
So I guess when I turned 16, I was on the phone with my boyfriend, whimpering about how we weren't in Cambridge any more. I still don't recall the details of the day. But in the absence of a proper record from way back when, at least I have this space to type into the abyss and end up someplace faintly resembling a memory.