Yesterday we went to Sir Pizza, and while I swallowed the last bite of my Royal Feast, John Cougar Mellencamp (that was his name once…) came on the speaker, singing about Jack and Diane. Given the fact that this week is presumed to end with a trip to my home town of Fort Wayne, Indiana for my parents’ 50th anniversary party, I’m pretty nostalgic for all things Indiana. Earnestness and cornfields and wide sky, here I come.
We were talking about the song later, my husband and I, because we are at the age where people do that. And in talking about that iconic a capella (except I think there are drums…aren’t there?) section at the end we seized on that one thought and what it means:
Gonna Let It Rock
Let It Roll
Let the Bible Belt come and save my soul
Hold On to 16 as long as you can
Changes come round real soon make us women and men
Neither of us were sixteen. Not even when we were sixteen. We both realised early on that life was made of work. I babysat, telemarketed and scooped ice cream from the time I was twelve. He worked in dishrooms from the time he was eleven. We were the kids who were too naive to know where the other kids were getting the booze we found out later they had been drinking all along. We weren’t sixteen when we were sixteen.
Even now, pretty well cemented in to our forties, with a diabetic old dog and a mortgage, we both heartily agree that we are happy right now living in right now and that things are altogether quite good. We have one another, and going through life with your best friend is a rare privilege not many people are accorded. So why would we want to hold on to 16? To that time when life was more about shouldn’t and can’t and not yet?
But I’ve always loved that song and shouted that line and it does mean something to me.
Now that I think about it I think that it means that part of you that many people are when they are sixteen–that part they misplace. Holding on to 16 to me means believing that the good stuff isn’t over. That there are still reasons to drive with the windows down and blast “Bat Out Of Hell”, that being excited about the love in your life.
I guess if you start out being totally carefree it might be possible to drop those feelings out of shock when Grownup hits you square between the eyes. But I really think if you are certain type of person who is a measured carefree you can carry it through the rough times. You can hold on to it. In a minute I’m going to limp over to the basement door and get my dog to come in for his morning insulin shot. Then I’m going to dig around for my migraine medicine, hoping I don’t drop it. But you know, here I live with the trees I planted and the self I’ve watered with books and music and the people and creatures I love. I wouldn’t trade this life for any other, not even my own from 25 years ago.