The only reason I’ve ever heard anybody say they want to return to their teenage years is to fix something stupid that they did back then (I think I just heard a huge ‘AMEN!’ from everybody over 20).
Those dreaded years when we’re trying to figure out who we really are… and then we’re expected to decide what we want to do for the rest of our lives at the same time. I mean, for crying out loud… it took me until I was 47 to figure out I’m supposed to be a writer. You’d think that teachers and guidance counselors, all of whom are past their teenage years, would cut us some slack, but, no… they want everybody to decide what college they want to attend by the tenth grade. I know of few individuals who have a passion for anything in life by that time. I guess they’re the lucky ones.
My Dad hatched the idea in my head to become a veterinarian, after all I seemed to get along with the animals on the farm, and I got pretty good grades in school (I knew he really wanted some free health care for his cows, I saw right through his guise). But, I didn’t know what else to do with my life, so I told everybody I wanted to be a vet. That obviously didn’t happen.
Fortunately, there was sports. When my oldest brother was a senior he was 5′ 10″ and about 150 lbs… he was the smallest senior on the team. I was listed at 5′ 7″ (the coach stopped lowering the measuring bar when it hit the top of my ready to be cut hair), I was actually 5′ 6″ and 128 lbs… I wasn’t the smallest senior on the team. I wondered if I would turn out to be one of those people who needed to win all the time… well, high school football broke me of anything related to that (we did win a few games… after all we were pretty quick).
My brother, Mike, was a year ahead of me in school. He decided he would try to be a kicker. He cut two tall poplar trees and made a goal post in the pastures by nailing some 2×6’s across them. I got to be the lucky one to hold the ball for him as he learned this new-found talent (he even remembers the time he almost kicked my left hand off… I had a little difficulty getting the ball on the block he was allowed to use… I did mention I was quick).
I tried my hand at kicking, too (I guess it would be my foot I tried… anyway), I never got to kick any field goals, or extra points, but I did get to do a few kickoffs in the tenth grade. Somehow I had a knack of hitting the ball at just the right spot that it would stay vertical all the way down the field (instead of the typical end over end). I think my guardian angel was possibly playing some kind of game in his spare time, but I can’t prove that.
I’ll never forget the game in the 11th grade when I finally got the ball thrown to me… it was intercepted. I took off after the thief to try to apprehend him when, from out of nowhere, this big bully blocked my cleanly in the shoulder pads. My feet were still trying to go forward, I flipped completely over and landed on all fours. I immediately got up and tried to run, fortunately my teammates tackled him at that time. I was glad that I was near our sidelines… the stars disappeared and the bells stopped ringing by the time the other team scored a few plays later. I was pretty sure the NFL wasn’t in my future.
Mike and I ran track a couple of years. He was a pretty good hurdler and long jumper. I tried to figure out what I was good at, distance running didn’t pan out the first year, hurdling wasn’t much better the following year. I knew the Olympics weren’t threatened by me.
Church remained a constant for me, even though my brothers didn’t see the need for it. Our small country church wasn’t exactly growing with the part-time pastor who came up from Grand Rapids on Sunday to preach. There was a time when my Mom taught the high school Sunday school class, I was frequently the only student she had. She felt that she had blessed me with about all the knowledge she had, so we would usually sit in the adult class when it was just me.
When I got my driver’s license my older sister would drive us to church and I would get the privilege of driving us home. Getting that old family station wagon safely over Hardy Dam was a challenge for the most experienced of drivers. It was built during the Depression, when cars were narrower, the wall that stood on the left shoulder was safe with me behind the wheel, I never hit it (even though you would have to be within a foot of it when you met an oncoming vehicle). I didn’t know God was preparing me for an extended career as a truck driver at the time.
Oh, I noticed the girls, and they noticed me, but I had decided that I wanted to serve God with my life, so I knew I was in no hurry to try to stay out of trouble by getting involved in that trap. There was one girl in particular, we dated once in high school… she’ll show up in another blog post… I think.
I still get an occasional pimple on my face. That’s as close to returning to my teenage years as ever really want to get in this life. But, at least I now know what I want to do with my life… WRITE.
I’ll see you later. Wade