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I. A Brief History of Forever

created Jun 10th, 11:35 by JMNo


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583 words
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Forever is the state, exclusive to those between the ages of 13 and 17,
in which one feels both eternally invincible and permanently trapped.
When my parents were young, Forever was expressed
through promise rings, names carved into trees, and photographs
you could hold in your hands. In the years since, Forever has inspired
many phrases and ideas popular among adolescents:
Best Friends Forever, Together Forever, Forever Young.  
In more recent years, Forever, with its cousins Always and Infinity,
as dominated young adult literature, differentiated the internet
from the more fleeting IRL, and, one could argue, explained  
he popularity of the galaxy print. Nothing lasts forever, of course,
but Nothing doesn't resonate with a teenager the way
Forever does, because, for better or worse, it’s hard to
imagine ever not feeling this way, being this person, having this life.
 
I waited my whole life for Forever. I started reading Seventeen at age
seven and regarded my camp counselors, babysitters, older sisters,
my sisters' friends, and my dad's high school students with more
reverence and awe than I did any actual grownup. And really, truly?
My Forever didn't disappoint. It wasn't perfect, but therein
lies its perfection: I've been lucky to come up in a time when there
are enough teen movies that make high school's terribleness into
something interesting at worst and beautiful at best,
so even the darkest times were not lonely, but strangely magical.
John Hughes said that "one really key element of teendom" is that it
"feels as good to feel bad as it does to feel good," so really,
I’ve had a solid run. Forever is not meant to be the best time
of someone's life, but it is certainly the most Forever-y.
So I'm not sad because I think post-Forever seems terrible,
I'm sad because Forever is remarkably peculiar, and I've really
enjoyed trying to understand why, and I will miss it.
 
I've often worried that this ambition to understand my own teenage
existence has lessened its sincerity, made my experiences
too self-aware, but it's been quite the opposite.
Chris Kraus writes in I Love Dick, "The Ramones give
'Needles & Pins' the possibility of irony, but the irony doesn't
undercut the song's emotion, it makes it stronger and more true."
The self-awareness or irony or whatever you want to call it made
it easier for me to appreciate the awful parts of Forever because
I had the rose tint of nostalgia in real time. It granted me a sense
of humor about the most resentful of teachers. I was careful not to
hang out in the alley behind school often enough to find it redundant
and oppressive. I let myself write bad poetry and diary entries
because I knew they'd at least be funny to look back on.
Of course, the idea of a time when I'd ever be looking back
was nebulous to the point of being unimaginable,
because Forever, Always, Infinity, etc.
 
Technically, I still have quite a bit of Forever left. I won't be a legal
adult until April. According to science, adolescence now lasts
till the age of 25. If we use high school as a timeline,  
I have six months left. But because my friends have already graduated,
because I'm in the midst of planning my future, because I feel like
I hold more memories of who I have been than an understanding
of who I am now, I say with certainty that my own personal
Forever is over. And I’m terrified.

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