Thirteen’s The Charm

A family friend from my childhood forwarded this picture to me a few days ago and I loved it for so many reasons…

It was taken at my childhood home in Visalia outside by the pool…

It was June and my mother’s birthday…

My father was still alive and wearing his new cool 70’s glasses (not flattering but hey, lots of things in the 70’s weren’t).

My Mom looks fabulous–she still does–but she’s young and wearing a pretty dress and I can tell she feels pretty here.

My sister has short hair… but at least she looks like a girl here.

I’m the 1970’s version of Harry Potter in my striped shirt, short hair and big glasses.  (I guess the 70’s frames didn’t look so hot on me, either…)


I’m thirteen in the picture above. I’ve just finished 7th grade at Green Acres Jr High and we’re about to head to Europe for a year so my dad could teach higher ed courses for the military in Nurnberg and Wurtzberg.

In Germany we were home schooled by our parents for a year, and when my dad wasn’t teaching, we traveled for weeks at a time throughout Europe in our VW camper van. During that year I also discovered Gummi Bears, ABBA and contact lenses. Although we were civilians we got to go onto base to buy peanut butter and Sugar Frosted Flakes. I bought my first Harlequin romance in Europe, as well as my first Barbara Cartland romance, and by the time the year was over I was addicted to young secretaries and their seductive, sophisticated bosses as well as impetuous duchesses and handsome rakes.

A little over two years after this picture was taken my dad would be gone, Europe would be behind us, and I’d soon start my sophomore year of high school. I would soon learn hard, heartbreaking things about life, but I hadn’t learned them yet, not in the photo above.

No, I was thirteen and rather lonely. I didn’t have enough friends and I spent a lot of time alone reading and writing poetry. I had an unflattering Dorothy Hamill hair cut and heavy glasses and huge dreams.

Someday I’d be pretty. Someday I’d be popular. Someday I’d  have a boyfriend.

I wish I could tell that awkward lonely thirteen year old Jane how much I love her. And how proud of her I am.


PS I have an unclaimed prize that needs a home! Want a chance to win something fun? Post a comment–any comment–and I’ll draw and announce the winner Saturday morning!

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