Karen asked if any of us old folks out here had any memories of our teens, and if our teenage years worked out to be the way we thought they would at the time.
I tried to reply on her livejournal, but the “open id” button wasn’t working, so I’ll just do it here.
I didn’t have any expectations that turning 16 would be any different than being 15. Instead of a sweet sixteen party (I loathe parties) I asked for and received my first computer (a 286 made by an IBM-clone that no longer exists.) Things were pretty stable. It was my junior year of high school, and although the first semester had been pretty tumultuous (I’d jumped ship from one clique into a different, looser group of friends) everything had smoothed over. I had a train pass and $12 a week to spend wandering Manhattan. That was awesome.
Let’s back up a bit. A couple of years earlier, a family friend had given me a book about angels and said I’d enjoy it. Ho-hum, so there are these airy-fairy things that sing and have harps and halos and stuff, and they keep pianos from falling on my head. Nice and all, but really, a whole book about them? This person got on my case a couple of times, and finally I decided to read the thing to shut him up. It turned out to be more interesting than I’d anticipated.
Nine days after my sixteenth birthday, I was reading the book on the subway going home from school, and it was as if the sky opened up over my head. All of a sudden I was awed by this world parallel to ours, beings that were stronger, fantastical, impressive, different-yet-the-same, and cared about us. I learned that this guardian angel thing they’d told me about was an individual, someone who not only looked out for me because “God said so” but because he loved me, and because it was a joy to bring me to know and understand God.
I was floored. I was so absorbed by what I was reading that at one point, I looked up to realize I’d actually exited the subway car without realizing: the train had been taken out of service and all the passengers were waiting on the Bowling Green platform. I was sitting in one of the few coveted seats, no idea how I’d gotten there, and I didn’t care. I let the next train go by, devouring this book, hungry to know more. I couldn’t believe what I was reading.
By the time I got off at home (45 minutes later) everything had changed. As I exited the train, I thought, “God, they tell me I have a guardian angel, and if I were doing that job, I’d want to be thanked. So tell him thank you for me.”
That night, I had a dream about the angel, and nothing’s been the same since, but most especially that first year. I don’t think the angel realized what he was about to set off when he replied to me via dreamscape, but I started talking to him. And talking to him. And talking some more.
It didn’t matter that I couldn’t hear any replies. It didn’t matter that I didn’t dream about him again. I just started talking and never shut up, and after about three months, he started playing games with me. I’d ask for little things and they’d happen. He’d help me out at my job, and I’d joke around and share silly thoughts with him, and sometimes he’d joke back with me, and things would happen, and it was fun. That first summer, every day was like a little miracle.
But it got bigger than that, because I started rabbit-trailing my way through a ton of religious books, learning more about my faith, learning more about prayer, and just devouring anything I could get my hands on in relation to God.
Sixteen was NOT what I had anticipated. I never would have anticipated that I’d start talking to an angel, or that one would like being talked to. I wouldn’t have dreamed that by the time I turned 17, I’d be considering entering a religious order. But it was better than I’d anticipated it would be, and I’m very glad it was.