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There was a time when I would leave a bar in Madrid at 3 in the morning, jump on some Spaniard’s motorcycle and enjoy an exhilarating, high speed spin around the city.

Or another time, when I was headed to Charleston, South Carolina on a Friday night to hang with my best friend Jo (yes, contributing mama Jordana), when I learned the flight was delayed. I had the following conversation with an airline worker:

“Why is the flight delayed? I have plans to go out tonight in Charleston,” I politely but urgently ask. I’m a 20-something single girl and I have PLANS. To go out.

“I’m sorry but we’re having a mechanical problem with the plane.  We’re waiting for a replacement part,” replies the airline worker.

Unsatisfied, I press for more information.

“When is the replacement part getting here?”

“It’s hard to say.”

“Well, who needs one little replacement part? It’s a short flight. Let’s just give it a go. The bars are only open ’til 1 am, you know,” I joke.

Well, sort of joke. I mean, let’s get this plane off the ground lady.

During my teens and twenties, I felt so damn invincible. So courageous. So strong.

But somewhere along the way fear crept in. I started to hesitate. About too many things.

I now can think of a crazy amount of reasons why it’s not such a brilliant idea to hop on some random guy’s motorcycle in the middle of the night in Madrid.

Or why an aircraft replacement part might be slightly more important than a night bar hopping with my friends.

But with this maturity, I’ve lost something along the way. A certain boldness.  A boldness that offers up life as it is meant to be lived. The full experience.

I know it has a lot to do with having children. It seems the more I have to lose, the more people I desperately love, the more paralyzed I become.

I want to protect my children from the evils of life and keep them safe forever. I want to be here on this earth for them as long as possible.

Of course, rationally, I know I can’t control their destiny. Or my destiny. But I keep trying.

So this year, I pledge to let go of a little of the fear. To have trust in the universe. To have faith in a higher power. To let go. Just a tiny bit.

Because I want my children to see me as a loving, independent and courageous spirit. The kind of mother who would absolutely take a ride on a motorcycle every now and again.

With a helmet.

The Spaniard is optional.

42 Responses to in search of the 20-something girl

  • PAPA says:

    Ah, Kelcey, that was absolutely beautiful.

    you’re an amazing woman.  Kick down the door to 2009 and show them your scissor kick!

    Best to you and yours for 2009!!

  • Molly says:

    Well there goes that topic for my blog!!!
    I hear you Girlfriend – same thing going on here. I’m thinking Spaniard, Greek, Frenchman, perhaps someone from Scotland (I would have gone ANYWHERE with him)!

  • Stephanie (Tyler's Mom) says:

    Fantastic post and so true!!!  Children really do change the way you look at the world and the way you make your choices.  The way I lived in my early twenties is nothing like the way I live in my late twenties.  I might need to reclaim a little bit of my boldness and let go of a little bit of my caution! 🙂

  • Kim says:

    We would go to N. Carolina for the weekend.. just case we could when I was the 20’s girl.. Now? pffft.. I am as spontaneous as a log. (totally made sense right?)

    Happy New Year..and I know you will totally do whatever you put your mind too..just as long as there are bathroom doors on the stalls.. 🙂

  • misty says:

    though I’ve, quite honestly, never encountered a Spaniard or his motor cycle, in Madrid- i have to say I know exactly what you are talking about…

    Happy New year!

  • Rhea says:

    Those damn motorbikes in Spain (and Europe in general) are so high-pitched and annoying!  They drive me nuts.  Now if I happened to be ON one, with a sexy Spaniard, I might change my mind.

    I know what you mean.  Having kids made me terrified of so much.  It’s amazing.

  • Aimee says:

    I LOVE this post. 
    I can relate to it 100%
    As I have thought many many many times since becoming a mom and a wife about how much of a whimp I have become. I to used to live with “balls to the wall”, and thought I had the world in my hand. I even remember hopping into a random limo in NYC that offered to take a friend and I home for free after a full night of drinking—thankfully nothing happened –the driver was just bored. After seeing the world through very different scary eyes–I now know I would never ever do such a thing. I –like you–feel completely still. So if you don’t mind I might have to borrow your 09 resolution and grow my carefree figurtive “balls” back! (maybe not so much as hoping in strangers cars–but taking some risks in life instead of accepting fear as the answer)

  • calikim says:

    Awwww….I was going to comment on how beautiful your post is, and how very true. What a great writer you are.

    Then I read Marcia’s post and almost peed my pants. Too funny!!! But dare I say true?? HA!!!  ; )

  • Abby Siegel says:

    Ms. K-
    The person you write about is the friend I befriended 21 years ago and still think of you as being. That said, if you need a little help loosening up just let me know! Despite being a bit “responsible” and “careful” I am happy to help you come out of the shell a bit and loosen up. God knows I need it a bit as well. Or maybe a lot. 🙂 Can’t wait for our date next week! Happy new year to you and the gang.

  • Jennifer H says:

    Yes, to all of it. I used to be that girl, too, and she seems to be gone now.

    I was proud of myself yesterday to limit myself to one “Be careful” when my son was climbing a tree.

    Now, if I could let go of my own fear at least that much. (You’ve said it, and now we’re all watching, telling you to go, go, let go…)

  • I guess I’m a wimp and proud of it.  I no longer have any desire whatsoever to jump on some stranger’s motorcycle, or hit the bars.  Although, if someone suggested an all-night knitting fest, I just might be tempted.

    And, no matter what you do, your (future) teen girls will be embarrassed (rather than impressed) by it.  So, do what you want; but don’t do it for their sakes.  They won’t care. And, really, that’s freeing in its own way.

  • Terra says:

    AMEN – isnt it nuts what age and motherhood does to us.  We often let go of parts of ourselves that we long for…I can’t wait to read updates on your reclaiming YOU this year! 

  • Robin says:

    Suburban Correspondent,
    Really well said. The beauty and joy of maturity is being able to do dorky things and not caring a lick what anyone thinks of you doing it.  With that said, the motorcycle ride with the spaniard sounds good too.

  • Shani says:

    I haven’t been following as closely as I’d like lately, so I was elated when I sat down to read and saw a shout out to SC! 😀  I think a motorcycle ride with a Spaniard sounds like something we don’t have to grow out of. 😉  We are headed to Charleston next weekend to celebrate leaving my 20s… for a second we thought we might do it mid-20s style.  Just considering it was exhausting (plus I’m sure the sitter wouldn’t appreciate it), so we’re thinking dinner instead!

    Happy New Year!  Hope you have a great day today!

  • Kristin Kutscher says:

    There is nothing like being on the back of a bike with a hunky Spaniard (or Portuguese for that matter!)  I miss those carefree days of our youth (oh crap – I sound like an old lady!)  Happy New Year – now if only Rick would drive up on a motorcycle – I know you would jump on in a minute!

  • Sarah says:

    Absof*ckinglutely.  My motorcycle guy was German, though.

    I’m in my 30’s, and even though I don’t have kids I feel the same way you do.  I ask, “Where did that girl go?  She really knew how to have fun, how to be spontaneous, how to look danger in the face and laugh.”  Now the only thing that girl knows how to do on a Friday night is shove a Netflix into the DVD player.  Wild times!

    This girl can never be that girl again, because she no longer has an amazing metabolism.  Because this girl spent 10 years paying off that girl’s debt after that girl decided that blowing $500 a week on clothes, shoes, and purses was the only way to fit in while living in Manhattan.  Because this girl gets migraines from martinis now.  Because this girl has met the love of her life and no longer has to flirt with and grope random strangers at downtown bars.  Because this girl has had life kick her in the booty about a million times since she was that girl.

    Even so, that doesn’t mean that this girl can’t look back at that girl and be inspired by her.  Thank you for your post.  Your resolution is mine.

  • francine Kasen says:

    Well said!  And you are so right that it is important for our children to see us as strong and daring women. It gives them a sense of security as well as a role model. And it sure does add spice to our lives! We made our family trips ADVENTURES whenever we could,  and they are great opportunities to share a little danger together. I gave Jenny a chance to be BRAVER than me on one of our trips. I have always been outdoorsy, but never had the nerve to bait a hook with a live worm, and I didn’t want her to have that fear. I made her do it on one of our mountain trips and she was very proud to be MY hero. And now I know if  I’m ever stuck for a fish dinner, Jen can help me out!

  • Well you’re still ahead of me.  Even in my 20s I wouldn’t have hopped a motorcycle with anyone, much less a Spaniard I didn’t know.  😉

    But I hear ya.  I want to be the kind of mom my kids are proud of and want to hang out with – not some stuffy fuddy-duddy scared of my own shadow.  It’s hard as you get older to maintain that sense of adventure.  Here’s to an adventurous 2009!! 🙂

  • Marinka says:

    This post is so important and really addresses something that I struggle with–I want my kids to have the fun times that I did, but I also know that I was reckless and I would have an instant ulcer if they tried any of that crap.  I think the solution is for our kids to lie to us about everything.

  • Jordana says:

    I love this post, and not just because of my shout-out!  That brave 20-something is in there still, she was far too bold to be banished into a Kingdom of Fear. If your 20-year old self comes out, where are we going to tell her my 20-year old self went??? ( :

  • Aunt Marcia (Guess Whose?) says:

    I think you and Jordana should get  fake I.D.’s  that show you’re both over 55 and try and get the ‘Senior Citizen Discount’ at IHOP…and if they don’t believe you….wrestle the manager to the ground.

  • Aunt Marcia (Guess Whose?) says:

    Lanie – It’s an ‘inside joke’….maybe Kelcey will give you the details of her “wild youth” with her best friend Jordana – If not, I still have the newspaper article and she can scan it into  the Mamabird Diaries.  It’s really very funny NOW…

  • anymommy says:

    I think about this change all the time.  It’s a complete shift in perspective and I guess a necessary awareness of my own mortality?!  Really well written!

kelcey kintner