One Quarter In Change

Not long ago I had lunch with an old high school friend. I consider him old in that we met sometime between my first real bra and his first tongue kiss with an eleventh grader. We are but early twenties babies, but yet this old, old friend and I reminisced over sandwiches the good old days: Saved By The Bell, getting your metal retainer stuck in compromising positions, Senior egg fights, the many, many dudes I dated who went on to date dudes, the creep of a  teacher who doubled as a suspected serial killer, and the many ways we forced ourselves to sip hot cans of beer for the sake of looking grown. The good old days. Yes. The good old days of 2005.

He  gave a stirring account of the time I swung the ropes into the Harpeth River only to lose my yellow, polka-dot bikini bottoms and hike the rugged shore full-moon glowing in the moonshine. “Who the hell was I?,” I joked, seriously. “Oh, you were popular. You were a total bitch to boys who loved you, but you were pretty enough to make up for it. And then you were this burping, farting dude, too. Oh. And the keg stands. You took gymnastics and, you know, it helped”. I shook my head, entertained but ultimately unsure that he hadn’t thought he was meeting someone else for lunch or that I wasn’t an alien using a cheerleader’s corpse as host or that this was even real life.

The waitress flopped the two checks onto the table. No. This is most certainly real. He is the 16-year-old boy without the social graces to pay for a lady’s lunch. And, well, I am feeling suddenly old enough to call myself a lady… until I belch. “There it is,” he laughs. I tell the girl to keep my change just as he announces he’d like his change exact. She smiles to hide an eye roll, returning minutes later with his fifty-three cents. “What?,” he notices my skeptical face because it looks quite blatantly skeptical. “Well, it’s not a lot but it’s something,” he remarks, scooting coins into his palm. “That’s what she said,” I retort, and like that the old me doesn’t seem so distant.

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Today is my birthday. I am twenty-five. Twenty-five pennies, one quarter, or- if I still listened to rap music- two fine dime pieces and a nickel. But I don’t listen to rap music anymore, just as I’ve forgotten how to swing on ropes into the river or break a boy’s heart or suck beer through a hose while performing acrobatics. I would be sad for this, all the not doing, if it weren’t for what I am doing. I look at myself today and cannot tell you who I used to be only that I am not who I was. In this little life, these couple of coins in a whopping piggy bank of time, I have crawled only to give it up for walking. I ran,then, and left walking behind. Playdates evolved into first dates and first dates into love. That love brought me a lovechild, and in one week my son will watch as this baby mama becomes a wife. With a four-sentence summary of my evolution I realize it is a glorious thing to be exactly not who I used to be. Those creeping growth spurts, those tiny steps I didn’t know I was taking brought me to this place. It doesn’t seem right that all that good can fit into the days, and yet it does. It overflows into months and seasons and years. And then today occurs, and all I can think is “Who the hell am I? Who the hell am I to deserve this life?”.

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He shoves fifty-three cents into his jeans pocket, and I cannot, I cannot contain myself. I can’t stop laughing, and  I need to know just why he couldn’t do without it. “Shut up! You just go around handing people money? Ha! You always were nice. I bet you do, don’t you? You just leave a pile of cash for total strangers. The Mother Teresa of Cracker Barrel,” he is deflecting, but he’s funny. I let him get away with it, not pressing the point of the matter which would be, in short, that he’s cheaper than sin. “Whatever. You always end up needing change, ok?  You go into a gas station and  you’re like ‘Crap, if only I had that damn nickel I donated to the one-eyed, sassy waitress. Now I gotta break a damn twenty.’ You always need change.”

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Two fine dime pieces and a nickel.  Twenty-five pennies. One quarter of a life. I’m keeping the change.

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68 thoughts on “One Quarter In Change

    • Thanks, Patricia! I definitely can’t believe I’m only 25. It doesn’t sound right. And I REALLY can’t believe I’m getting married in a week. Can’t wait to see all the bloggy votes come together!

  1. Tori, Happy Birthday! I can’t really believe you are only 25 in that you write like someone who has lived forever. But I am truly beginning to understand that age is just a number, as I feel closer to people in their 20s than my own age. Or maybe I’m just in denial. Whatever, I hope your day is filled with joy, and your year is magical.

    • Age ain’t nothing but a number, for sure. I feel a little silly only turning 25. Definitely feel like I’ve already lived enough to have reached that tiny mark before now :)

    • YES! I was looking for some relevant accomplishment in turning 25. Tom finally pointed out the REAL reason to celebrate my ’87 year of birth: discounted car insurance!!!!!

  2. Happy Birthday lady! Seems like only yesterday you were…wait, where am I? Whose blog is this? Oh right…I’m sorry, us old folk forget things sometimes.

    I love it when you’re sincere…if only for a brief moment in between belches. This piece was great, but who are you trying to fool. You don’t listen to rap music anymore? Do you not tune into Choo-Choo soul regularly and beat-box along with DC as he “uses his letter sounds”? That’s what I thought.

  3. Happy birthday, Tori! Twenty-five seems so young (I’m a stair or two away from forty….can’t remember if it’s one or two and I don’t have enough fingers to count it out right now :lol:) The one good thing about aging is that we continue to evolve and grow within ourselves. Some pieces of ourselves never go away. May you be happily belching at forty!

    • I just belched a response to your comment as a matter of fact. It sounded like “Viva La Belch”. Unfortunately, WP has failed to acknowledge burping as a legitimate form of downloadable “media”. They need an app for that :)

    • AMEN! I spent many a bbq-sauce-stained night waitressing in college. I tip way too much now as a “Sorry. I know you are bustin’ your butt to bring me refills”.

    • NO! No tip! Zilch! Zero! Nothingness! After listening to us crack goofy jokes for a couple hours, that poor girl deserved to win a new car. I tipped a little extra as a “Sorry” :)

  4. A birthday and an upcoming wedding – this is definitely time to celebrate with all the dime pieces you can get!! Happy birthday!

    Also? I cannot believe you write this friggin’ well at 25. And you’re hot. I really am starting to hate you. ;)

    • I know! I tried convincing the ladies to bump my bachelorette shindig to midweek so we could meet up. They assure me that an early-bird bachelorette party at the Picadilly Cafeteria is not what the young kids call “happening”.

  5. Happy Birthday Tori! 25 is so young! Most people haven’t figured out who they are by 25. You seem wise beyond your years. Also funny. Also hot. I’m amazed your friends don’t hate you for it.

  6. Happy birthday to Tori: little girl, wise-beyond-her-years crone, and soon a woman-bride. I’m wishing you a lifetime, a piggy-bank full of wonderful change!

    • Thanks, Peg! I’m excited to just be getting into the really good stuff. Potty training a toddler. What? You thought I was going to say eternal love and balance, didn’t you?

  7. Tori, I share the same sentimentality about life – the melding of the past, the present, and the future.

    I felt the same way at 25. Oh, and I feel the same way at 53. Though the 6-pack abs (you thought I was gonna say 6-pack of beer, dint you?) are now a 1-pack! hehe

    It’s funny, that I didn’t use to listen to rap, and now as an older guy, I do.

    I look forward to reading many more posts of “the ramblings” as time marches on, my friend!

  8. Happy birthday! Is your new blog background an ode to those yellow polka-dot bikini bottoms of (not so) long ago?

    And this teacher who was a suspected serial killer: suspected by whom? The FBI? Or the students in his 3rd period class? Big difference there (though either group could be onto something!).

    • The teacher was mostly just suspected of criminal misdoings by the student body, most of whom were pissy over failed tests and detentions. Teenagers sure are fair little things, eh?

  9. Happy birthday, Ms. N!!!
    You are SO young… I practically new the dude on that quarter! *shudders*
    Anyway, my oldness is not the point… the happy birthday-ing is the point! So, like, more-o-that! :)

  10. My life did not begin at 25, but it is when it began to matter the most. I married the woman I will spend the rest of my life with (God willing) and we started the family that I needed more than that I thought I did.

    Happy birthday.

    • “Needed more than I thought I did”. That, sir, is the very best way to sum up how I feel about it. I cringe a little when I think of all the times I announced that I wasn’t the marrying or mommying type. I can’t imagine being anything else now :)

  11. Happy Quarter Of A Century!! I too am feeling just a tad old at this moment having lived another ten years more than you. All I can say is it just gets better! xx

  12. You are awesome Tori! You deserve this great life and all of the gifts it brings you.
    I can barely remember 25, but I think it was totally righteous.

    Happy Birthday!
    Happy Wedding!

    • Happy belated bday you spring chick! I have to say my life started to get real interesting around your age. I met my husband at 27 and it’s been a helluva ride ever since. I wish you tons of happiness and congrats on your upcoming wedding!

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