By Dana Gornall
If you have seen the 80’s movie 16 Candles, you might remember it as a coming of age movie about liking a popular boy, feeling different and invisible and finding that even in confusing times, family is still there.
You might also remember it as Molly Ringwald’s character giving Anthony Michael Hall’s character her underpants and taking advantage of drunk girls being acceptable. Controversy aside, 16 Candles was a movie you likely grew up with if you were an 80’s teenager, and some of the theme has stuck in our heads, like most John Hughes movies.
Sam—the focal point of the movie—has turned 16. The movie starts out with her looking in the mirror to see if she has changed. Disappointed in the fact that she has not, in fact changed at all, she is quickly disappointed again by her family not realizing it was her birthday. They are preparing for her sister’s wedding, and all of the focus is on that.
Turn after turn Sam faces frustration—the boy she likes ends up reading a quiz that was passed to her in class by one of her friends where she mentions she likes him, some geek is hitting on her while she rides the bus and goes to the school dance, her grandparents are clueless and embarrassing and make remarks about her lack of breasts.
Of course like any good John Hughes 80’s movie, it all ends well. The girl gets the boy, the geek gets the popular chick and the family—albeit weird and a mess—shows up for her at the last minute and apologize for forgetting her birthday.
Life is like that. We get ideas in our heads about the way things are supposed to be.
We look at Instagram and compare everyone’s lives to our own. We might think, if only we had more money, a better car, a bigger house, a new fridge, a landscaped lawn, things would be better. If we worked out a little more, if we meditated a little more, if we got up earlier or went to bed earlier, life would be closer to perfect. While those are great goals to have, and it helps to be financially stable, nothing will ever be perfect.
This morning I woke up feeling not the best. I was tired. My eyes were still puffy from a hard cry I had two nights ago. My 18 year old daughter is going to college soon and had stayed out at a party. My son came home late from his girlfriend’s house. I have to work today and I am not motivated for it.
So this is 48, I thought, as I pulled on my leggings and got ready to go to the gym. I sipped my coffee (my pre-workout drink) and remembered the mornings when my kids made me breakfast in bed.
Life is constant and flowing. Never staying still for any amount of time no matter how much we would like it to.
But it is how it is. We take snippets of each moment, never knowing which ones will be the ones that stay in our memories forever. We breathe, we cry, we laugh, we yell, we love and we grieve.
I can look at all the things that are missing from this year or I can look at all of the things I have gained. I have raised three amazing children into adults. I have been knocked down in life and have stood back up. I have left jobs and gained new ones. I have loved and lost, and loved again.
Okay, so the reality is that this is not a John Hughes movie. I will not be sitting on my dining room table at the end of the night with a birthday cake. But the girl still gets the boy, and the family—a little bit of a mess but still wonderful—still comes through at the end (as they always do).
So this is 48. And I am grateful.
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