In exactly one month from now, I will have graduated from High School exactly ten years ago. A milestone like that can certainly make someone feel old. As I ride the bus to work in the mornings and see local teenagers getting off to go to school, it makes me feel even older. All the weird clothes and cell phones and strange music, vibrant hair colors - things that were blatantly taboo while I was growing up have all become common place. Kids used to defy their parents by getting a random piercing on their face; Today, parents are willingly taking or allowing their kids to get these metallic deformations. (like those 'snake-bite' double lip piercings. Really? You're letting your 14 year old walk around looking like they just got snagged by a fishing hook?) I remember my mom freaking out because I put red streaks in my hair. A teenage girl I ride the bus with has bright purple layering underneath her jet black dyed locks. As her and her friends hop off the bus, they're quickly lighting up cigarettes and texting their friends before walking to homeroom. Oh, sure, there was smoking and other debauchery that went on amongst my peers back then, usually under wraps and out of the unseen eyes of adults - but today, it seems to have become so commonplace.The times, they are a changin'!
When I was 14, I started my freshman year of high school. I had short, pixie/boy cut hair. I wore vintage t-shirts and pants with legs so wide you could practically fit another human being in them. I had a backpack covered in ska & punk band patches. I wore a ball chain necklace and rubber bracelets and a chain attached to my wallet. Sometimes, I was even known to wear a studded choker or a white leather cat collar with a bow, encrusted with blue rhinestones. I would wear a vinyl skirt with a button down shirt, tie and wingtips - occasionally I added a tiara to the mix. I spiked my hair with pomade and carried an old metal lunchbox as a purse. I wore a dark blue hoodie every day with holes cut out in the arm bands for my thumbs. I put red streaks in my hair. I wore oversized "metal" band (Korn, System of a Down, Kittie, Stain'd, etc of the day) t-shirts. I wore out several pair of red & gray contrasting Vans skateboard sneakers - even though I'd never skateboarded a day in my life. I was a band geek - I played the flute in the marching and symphonic bands. My best friend & I started and were the only 2 members on the marching flag squad - for all of one parade. I was part of the TV station. I played JV lacrosse for their start-up season. I went to prom my junior and senior year and wore candy colored dresses to both of them.
By senior year I had toned down my look, grown out my hair, started wearing more sensible clothes and was preparing to head off to college in Boston. I wore a pink flowered dress with white sandals to my graduation under my white graduation gown. I got my diploma and tossed my hat in the air - no more teachers, no more books! I worked at a camp with my friends all summer and partied on the weekends at clubs and raves and had a relationship with a boy while cheating on my shut-in RPG playing boyfriend. Little did I know that in three months, my life would be changing forever. And not just because I was going to college, but because that year, ten years ago, September 11th happened - exactly 5 days before I was due to move into my college dorm for Freshman orientation. (My college was on the trimester system, so we had a late start.)
Now, 10 years later - here I am. Living on my own in Philadelphia with my Master's degree. My hair is all one color, my jeans are normal and I wear plain t-shirts. The road has been rocky, but I'm still standing. And as I speak, construction crews are working on rebuilding the Twin Towers so that they too can stand strong again one day.
10 years may seem like a long time, but we're just getting started.