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January 30, 2007

Answering to my Teenage Self

Kelly Corrigan, writer, wife, mother of two, recently sat down for an interview with her eighteen year-old self to discuss values, ambition and dating versus mating. Here’s an excerpt from what appears to be an ongoing conversation.

KC (18): OK, um, for starters, why do you put on sun block every morning? It’s not like you’re going to the beach or something, and you could use some sun on your cheeks.

KC (39): Well, besides skin cancer, there’s the wrinkles. Look at my forehead. See?

KC (18): What-ever. Why don’t you go to a tanning place if you’re so down on real rays? I know one on Shattuck Avenue that’s awesome and they have a 10-pack thing so it’s totally cheap.

KC (39): It’s not a money thing; it’s the time. We’ve been out of ketchup for three days and don’t have a piece of bread in the house. Do you realize how challenging it is to feed children without ketchup? Anyway, I don’t care that much.

KC (18): I can tell.

KC (39): Oh, really?

KC (18): Well, I mean, yeah. You’re totally awesome and everything but seriously, CK jeans from Costco? T-shirts from Land’s End? And what’s this Miracle Suit thing? At least go to Old Navy. Or H&M. If I were you—okay, I am you, eew, weird—I’d spend more time shopping for clothes and less time shopping for ottomans and window treatments. And what’s with the gardening kick? You’ve been back and forth to the nursery like ten times in the last week.

KC (39): Is gardening so bad? My flowerbeds are finally working. Look at the snapdragons, the zinnias. That hydrangea is burning up but that corner’s always given me problems—

KC (18): Um, OK, senior citizens garden. That’s how they throw their backs out and break their hips. It’s the last thing they do before they move into [finger quotes] continuous care. By the by, Claire’s preschool called and you forgot to hand in the permission slip for the field trip to the [more finger quotes] retirement community. I thought you’d—ugh, I’d—be more together by now.

KC (39): Nope. Still hitting the snooze button, still missing deadlines and still ten pounds overweight.

KC (18): And still borrowing clothes.

KC (39): Oh come on, that was one time. I found out that wedding was black tie the day before we left.

KC (18): I just thought by the time we were 40—

KC (39): We’re not 40. We’re 39.

KC (18): Yeah, okay but anyway, I thought we’d have a couple nice dresses in the closet. I thought we’d throw nice dinner parties and get front row tickets at the best concerts and stop wearing those Levi’s.

KC (39): I love those Levi’s. Who’s looking at me, anyway?

KC (18): (head shake. hopelessness sets in around the eyes.)

KC (39): Did you see I quit smoking? Like, 10 years ago? My lungs are probably as pink as a baby’s bottom. And I got a Masters. Like we always planned.

KC (18): Oh really? I have it right here in my Monkees journal— P H D.

KC (39): Yeah, that was before we researched student loans and the job market for Comparative Lit Professors. Before we went to college and realized that the kids we’d be lucky discuss Wallace Stevens and Toni Morrision with just want to get into the right fraternity, try some psychedelics and maul each other.

KC (18): Whoa. Freak out. Little cynical there?

KC (39): Not cynical. I can’t be cynical. I have children. Just realistic.

KC (18): That’s what they all say. So, is this mommy thing what we’re gonna do for the rest of our life?

KC (39): We’re not gonna do anything for the rest of our life. We’ll keep changing. That’s one of the things we figured out.

KC (18): Sounds kinda unstable to me. Doesn’t it drive you crazy?

KC (39): No, it’s liberating—making small decisions, taking the drama out of things, knowing that I can change course. The only thing that needs to be consistent and stable is my marriage.

KC (18): Interesting. I like him, by the way, even though he was in a singing group in college. And he’s not as tall as I thought he’d be. But I like him.

KC (39): Tall? Get a grip, kid. You know how hard it is to find the right guy? Trust me, it’s all coming together just fine.

KC (18): What a relief. All that worry—the stress breakouts and bitten nails—for nothing. Hard to believe how normal it all seems. (pause) I still think you could you spruce it up a bit.