Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Dear long-haired, stubborn, 16-year-old me:

I've seen my share of open letters lately.  From Miley to some poor, unknowing mom checking Pinterest from her iPhone at the park, people have a LOT to say to other people.  Sometimes it's kind of judgmental, too, which is a bummer theme of the "Open Letter".  Or it's all "I know more than you so let me deign to share that abundant knowledge with you." Sometimes they do know more, but open letters still feel kind of weird.

And it's fine. If you page back in this bloggety blog, you'll find I've done it too.  And hang on to your pants, friends, because hypocrite that I am, I'm going to do it again. I mean, I try not to, but I also saw this thing on Facebook (something tells me I maybe spend a bit too much time on Facebook) about "What's one thing you would tell your 16 year old self" and I decided I couldn't do it in a sentence. I spend a lot of time with a 16 year old now, so I've been thinking a lot about what I'd tell *me* if I were *her*.  And I do tell *her* some of these things but not all of them because who needs to listen to me lecture without paying tuition fees?

Right, fictional past-me reading future-me's letter like some sort of knowledge Looper.

This is you in 2 years.  No matter how hard you try, your hair won't be more red than your graduation gown. Just give up. Also, transition lenses aren't your friends now, but I hear they're better in the future. 

So here goes, 16 year old self:

Stop being such a self-centered bungholio. Wait. That's rude because you are sometimes really, really, awesomely selfless.  It's just hidden behind this veil of mememememememememe that you find really comfortable.  But really, a little tiny bit less.  Let us in a little bit.  I promise, it'll be OK.

I should also tell you that the boy you thinks you're going to marry isn't the guy. He's going to go to Harvard and be wildly successful and marry an opera singer.  No shit.  The next guy - he's the guy, but you're not going to know that for another 8 years during which time you'll fall in and out of love with all kinds of amazing people.  Don't hold back your heart - go ahead and do it. Date knife boy and that guy from AA and the musician. . . musicians. . . and the poet.  Definitely date the poet, because you're going to travel the southwest playing disc golf and doing slam poetry and he's going to introduce you to Buffy the Vampire Slayer and snicker as you may, you'll never regret knowing about Joss Whedon.  When you wake up on that inexplicable day in September with the poet at your side and suddenly realize it's not going to work - don't doubt yourself.  Break his heart and your heart and trust it's the right decision because he's going to go on to marry another amazing poet you introduce to him and you're going to get back the "one that got away" and it'll be, well, it won't be perfect because nothing is, but it'll be really, really, really awesome.

Oh, and those two teachers that you were always like "Damn, they SO should be a thing."  They will be.

But these next two are super important:

First: your family rocks.  I know you fight and fight now, but they are fighting FOR you not with you.  It doesn't feel that way and that sucks. But try. Try to see it that way. Also, please know you're going to say goodbye to one of your four parents long before their time. That's just awful and it will hurt. A lot - more than you imagine. So love all of them fiercely now while you can - and love the ones who remain later even more fiercely. And talk to the one who left, no matter how foolish you feel, because even in absence you can learn something.

 Finally, you're pretty cool, self.  So's life.  So when you're feeling like it's not, be kind.  Find a few things that are amazing and beautiful.  Look at a coffee table book of Ansel Adams photographs or Frank Lloyd Wright buildings or a calendar of baby animals and know that it's all good.  Things are going to get much better than they are now.

And in the interest of full disclosure, sometimes they will get so much worse, but you'll rebound.  During one of those dark times, your Dad will write you a great letter and it will say that life has pain and life has joy and because he's an artist he's going to talk about how that contrast brings depth and without some pain the joy's just going to be blah (he's also a poet, so he'll say it better than I have) and without some joy the pain's going to suck and with the two of them, there will be an awesome balance. Something brilliant and amazing with shadows and light.  Like Thomas Kinkaide, except way better and not sold at a mall kiosk.

One final thing:  Don't feel guilty about spending $150 on those combat boots. You'll still wear them in 20 years.  But do, for the love of god, please DO keep the plaid Doc Martens.  Yeah, the toe fabric is peeling off and held together by a band-aid, but sweetie, you're never going to find the right pair to replace them.  And you're going to miss them.

Love you.
And love,

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