Last month, I read 29 for the From Left to Write book club. Simply put, it’s about a grandmother who finds herself with the rare opportunity to live for one day as another age. As the title suggests, she chooses 29. What makes the story even better is that her granddaughter gets to experience the day with her.
The first thing that ran through my mind while reading was, if I could go back to any age for one day, which would I choose? I’m sure the answer might change as I get older, but as of now, I’d relive a day of my 17th year, ginormous glasses and all. Seventeen was the year of my first real love, the year I spent carefree days with friends before things like betrayal and tragedy became known to us, before we were naturally separated by adulthood. Instead of stressing about AP tests, I would cherish each moment spent on and behind the stage, a place I miss now. Instead of worrying about peering eyes, I would kiss my boyfriend with abandon, savoring sweet moments that I didn’t realize I would forget over time. Instead of taking the days I had with my friends for granted, I would hug them each a little tighter, a little longer.
As I got deeper into the book, my thoughts turned to my own grandma. I remembered first seeing a picture of her when she was about my age and wondering what she was like back then. I thought about how amazing it would be to experience an earlier time with her. Then I wondered, what age would Gram choose? After turning the last page of the book, I wrapped it up to send to my grandma along with a note, basically saying what I’ve shared with you here.
Yesterday, when I called Gram for Mother’s Day, I asked her what her decision would have been. She told me, “Sweet 16, or somewhere around that time.” I was surprised that we chose similar ages, expecting for an almost 95-year-old woman to choose a later year. Being the kind of person who needs prodding before she’ll talk about herself, Gram waited for me to ask, “Why?” before explaining. She said it was because she was a free spirit back then, and she briefly reminisced about wandering through the park next to her house until she heard her mother call her from the window for dinner. It was a small, yet meaningful, glimpse into a time I know little about in the life I someone I love.
I was reminded again of the power books can have. I doubt I ever would have had this conversation with Gram otherwise. This detail, though seemingly small, helps to make a more complete picture of who she is. A warm, memorable chat with Gram and a new tidbit of insight into her life, all made possible because of a book.