I find myself faced with twin sources of nostalgia.
We moved a couple weeks ago, and moving always brings up a lot of nostalgia. I had plastic bins full of my past just taking up space in the basement. These artifacts from high school evoked the requisite memories, and I was suddenly face-to-face with that special blend of awkward and earnest that was 16-year-old Katie. I don’t bear her any ill-will. In fact, I feel protective of her. I want to hold on to her idealism, and in her honor, I will never, ever write another poem.
No one would be more excited to watch Ingo Rademacher compete on this season’s Dancing with the Stars than that Katie. She loved this version of Jasper Jacks.
What? It was the ’90s.
I owe it to my 16-year-old self to watch DWTS, just like I owe it to her to eat Fruit Loops with Marshmallows, which would have blown her damn mind. All she wanted out of the cereal experience was Fruit Loops mixed with those marshmallows from Lucky Charms. These days, I eat mostly those health food cereals with multi-grain flakes and nut clusters, but about once or twice a year, I buy a box of Fruit Loops with Marshmallows for 16-year-old Katie.
She did right by me. She could’ve worked a little harder in school to make college a little easier, but she was too busy writing and daydreaming about this guy:
This photo used to be the background on my computer screen. When I look at it now, sure, I’m a little embarrassed. Grown-ups don’t objectify attractive bodies the way teenagers do. (We do it; we just do it differently, maybe worse.) When I think of all the time I spent thinking about Ingo, I wonder why my brain was worth anything at all when I graduated from high school. I was infected with some serious Ingo fever. I suppose everyone has similar stories of infatuation (probably not involving soap opera actors), but retrospect has little context. When I found a box full of VHS tapes on which I had recorded and then saved all of my favorite Jax episodes of GH, it was hard in that moment to cut 16-year-old Katie some slack. I’m sure she thought she might need those someday, but for what possible purpose?
The worst part is that the tapes are currently in the basement of my new house, not in the trash where they belong. Am I in the midst of some kind of Jax renaissance? God help me.
That 16-year-old Katie isnâ€™t even the most embarrassing or regrettable version of myself. I donâ€™t have much memorabilia from the worst version, which we shall call 19-year-old Katie. Iâ€™m happy to never see that jerk again. She abused my GPA and my liver with equal measure. I don’t know what her problem was, and I don’t feel beholden to her in any way. In fact, I feel like I’m still cleaning up her messes. She liked Jax, too, so we all have that in common. She also liked to write, which is a stronger thread connecting all the versions of myself to this current incarnation.
Dancing with the Stars is a small favor to do for 16-year-old Katie. It’s a little over-the-top, cheesy, and tedious, but I think I can handle it. Tonight, I caught a break because Ingo danced first so I could just vote for him and then move on. Now I’m watching season eight of Weeds on Netflix. This business of honoring one’s past is tricky. Balance is the key.