It started as a simple question. Were there songs with an age other than "16" in the title celebrating ages other than those of the sweet teen years? I suppose it was natural for me to wonder about this -- my being a multiple of 16 several times over -- and reminded of the aging process every time NPR wishes someone at 6:00am a "happy birthday."
Most of my students offered Taylor Swift's "Fifteen" and "feeling like there's nothing to figure out." Although I still have more questions than answers, back then I'd had the world organized.
I remembered the Sound of Music's Rolf and Liesl's repartees about being "16 going on 17," "timid and scared and shy" about the world. There I was, heading off to college, feeling overwhelmed, my bravery shaky.
When Neil Sedaka crooned happy birthday to the tomboy who'd blossomed into "the prettiest girl he's ever seen," I saw my braces disappearing and pretty seemed a bit closer.
The Beatles had made me feel I could have been the one who'd made Paul's heart go "boom." How often have I felt a part of my own "circle game...captive on the carousel of time"? Feeling lonely as well as desired, I often wanted the lyrics to my life's songs to be as hopeful as those I'd listened to in my teens.