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Reel Mama: 21, where did you go?

Monday, November 21, 2011

21, where did you go?

It used to be, “Twenty-one, please come.  Please come!”  Now it's, “Twenty-one, where did you go?”
I'm ashamed to admit I can't remember what I did for my twenty-first birthday.  That's not good no matter which way you slice it, either because I had way too much fun to remember the night at all, or because I'm getting too old to remember back that far.
Would I trade places with the 21-year-old girl who up until that night got illicit wine from the hole-in-the wall Chinese restaurant nobody knew about?  The girl who could pull double, even triple all nighters to cram for the exam and somehow remember everything?  Who could eat a full plate of pasta for dinner, and then as a midnight snack have a large slice of NY-style pizza AND something called a Flurry, a decadent ice cream concoction mixed with whatever your thigh-expanding weapon of choice?  M&M’s were mine, and I could still button my jeans in the morning.  Going back a few years, would I trade places with the wide-eyed girl who drove with her dad in a pickup truck to start as a freshman at Yale, sight unseen?  
I know I wouldn’t trade places with my 21-year-old self for all the world.  I would never prefer to forego getting to be a parent, and all the deep friendships and relationships I have with my family and friends, not to mention the life experience and wisdom I've gained through the years, whether through joy or heartache. 
But there are days when I miss that girl.  I was supposed to be the first female director to win an Oscar.  That's been done.  I was going to be a Senator by now.  I think I'm a long way away from that.  
In high school, I was elected "Most Likely to Change the World." But instead the world has changed me.  
I've seen the cruelty now.  I've had enough doors slammed on my face.  I understand now what the world is really like.  And yet, I still understand what the world can be, seen through the eyes of that 21-year-old girl who is still inside me, and who will always be a part of me.  I don't want to be her, but I want to hold onto her, because I don't want to lose the sense of wonder, nor the sense of hope that anything is possible.
She knows it's a wonderful world, and sometimes I need to be reminded of it.
And I'll drink to that.


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