I always look back at 17 as being the best year of my life. I'm not really sure why, but I just remember being so full of life and so hopeful about everything. Life was bliss and nothing could touch me. I look back at that year as the time in my life when I was most alive. Not only could nothing touch me - I didn't let it - but nothing could stop me, either. The years before that, I was terribly shy, plagued with a deep depression and with suicidal thoughts. I had a close knit group of friends who I spent almost all of my time with. I watched every French indie film that I could get my hands on and I spent hours upon hours staring off into nothing and just thinking horrid things about myself and my life. This all started around the age of 10 and quit mid-way into my sixteenth year of life. I'm not sure what changed that I snapped out of it, but I did. And I turned 17 with some of the most joy and life that I've ever felt.
Just the other day, I found these photos on a forgotten file in my computer. They were taken when I was 17 by Wynona Grey and Reed Herreid of the now defunct street style blog Minneapolis Affair, commissioned for an article in a local magazine. I remember being nervous about taking these photos - and the feature itself - because up until then my blog had been held in utmost secrecy. My parents didn't know about it. I don't even think that my friends knew about it, or my boyfriend. It was my private place only read by people who didn't know me. I remember that when the article came out, everyone was impressed but I was pretty embarrassed. Most people didn't understand why I blogged. A lot of people thought that I believed myself to be self-important. My supervisor called me up to his office specifically so that he could make fun of me for it, striking fake model poses and pouting his lips. The guys who worked in the cash office taped the article up behind the bullet proof glass so all of my hundreds of co-workers could see. I kept a good sense of humour about it, but I remember feeling like I wanted to go hide in a cave. It was a feeling that I hadn't felt all the time that I was 17 - it was how I felt from the ages of 10 through 16. I bounced back from it of course, but I always felt a sort of shame about making my blog public to the people who actually knew me.
When I was 17, I was constantly flirtatious. I had a steady boyfriend at that time and I think I drove him mad because I was always playing games with other guys. I don't remember having particularly high self esteem during this time, but it was the first time in my life that men were giving me attention, and so I took it and ran with it. It was my own little form of entertainment even if I never went further than flirting and little games. I was very happy in my relationship with my boyfriend. It was not true love by any means, but he was a great companion and I was happy with him. He always seemed nice, though behind the scenes he was critical of me for being myself and he had a quick temper. Sometimes he'd scream so loud and angry at me, his entire face would be beat red and contorted. I was always a little fearful of his anger, but he never laid hands on me and in my eyes of being an invincible 17 year old high off of loving life for the first time in many years, that was all that mattered.
I was in school during this time - my second year of college - but I don't ever remember going to class. I think I had a lot of lectures that year (generals, ugh!) and I tended to skip a lot. I spent so much of my time going on adventures with my boyfriend. I didn't have many friends, my main friend group from high school having splintered off just months beforehand. But it was okay - I had a work family in my co-workers, and I spent my weekends driving around the Minnesota countryside with my boyfriend, hiking random trails, chasing cows down back country highways, and four wheeling through fields of wild prairie grass. I don't really remember ever being home during this time. I do remember having arguments with my mother about what an acceptable amount of time to be away from home was - is four days too much? I tended to just leave, not saying how long I'd be gone, and show back up days later with a pile of dirty clothes and my mind full of adventures and all of the crazy people I'd met.