15 February 2012

I Met My 30 Year Old Self

by Diane Carlisle

I accepted a challenge at Florida Writer's Association Conference Blog, a blog I visit on a regular basis. I'm always shocked at how much the authors there inspire me to write things that bring out my personality, that thing they call "voice" in the writer world.

"What if the you of 30 years ago could suddenly spring forward in time and meet the current you? Or, what if the 30-years-younger version of a character could spring forward and meet the current version? Once the technology shock wore off, what would they talk about? How would they feel? Would the younger version be inspired by what he or she saw or depressed? Would the current version long for that youth, or be glad it was gone?"

Take the challenge and I think you will find your voice. Here's mine:

"This is trash, look at this."

The girl places the garment to her chest and spans the sleeve across the length of her arm.

"It's not you," her friend takes the fringed, waist-length blouse.

"I know!"

"Here, try this one on with the black chic jeans. It's cute." Her friend hands her a suede vest with laced sleeves.

"Excuse me," I say.

The girl looks at me and her friend fades into the background.

"Do I know you?" The girl looks at me and immediately gasps.

"I know, I know," I laugh at her because I know what she's thinking.

"Wow, how old are you?"

"I'm forty five," I say.

"Well, you don't have any gray hairs."

"That’s because I get it colored every six to eight weeks."

"Oh, well I guess you're allowed to do that since you're all grown up." She makes air quotes at that. "I’m not even allowed to get highlights."

"Well, when you can afford to cover up the roots every six weeks so you don't get that skunk streak down the middle, do it then."

"Whatever. It's like ten bucks."

"Try a hundred and seventy-five with tip and all."

Her jaw drops.

"You must be rich," she says.

"No, just vain." We laugh together.

Her hair is almost jet black and feathered back away from her face and plastered down with hairspray. I can't remember when I stopped using hairspray and just let my long strands drip dry out of pure laziness.

We stand for a moment and she notices my smile. "What happened to my teeth?"

I touch my mouth, "Oh, the canine?" I knew which tooth she meant. I always hated that tooth, but mom and dad insisted it was cute, way too cute to fix. I look at her smile and decide they were right.

"It's not as cute when you get older, so I had it fixed."

"Cool, I bet that was expensive, huh?"

"Thirty years ago, maybe."

"So what do you do as in a job and all?"

"I'm a Systems Analyst. I make software that runs on computers." I blush and realize the closest thing she has experienced with software so far is Pong, the game where two vertical bars are maneuvered up and down on opposite sides of the screen and a small digital ball is passed back and forth between them.

She's not impressed. Well, she has this blank look on her face, so I assume she's not impressed.

"So, you're a nerd?"

I blink back my surprise. "What? No, I'm not a nerd."

She laughs, "Yes you are!"

I look at her friend, now several feet away, browsing the racks. "Okay," I say. "Miss Honor Society. Miss J.E.T.S. Club. Miss Student Council."

She looks back at her friend. They are both similarly dressed in the latest fashion trends. A bit cartoonish for today's standards.

She studies me for a moment, then says, "Yea, well, I thought I would out-grow it."

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