To the girl who almost lost a digit back in ’85
It was like the perfect storm. There was my mom, my sisters, my dad, and my dear friend Juanita out in eastern Oklahoma ALL asking the exact same questions: How are the kids? What’s new with you? Whose TV are you going to park in front of for Thanksgiving?
It’s not that I have anything against repeating myself, per se, but I was apt to give the same answer five or six times over the course of three days. By the sixth rendition, I’m sure I sounded as flat and unfeeling as a spare tire. Needless to say, I skimmed on the details, left out the heart of the story, and wished they would utilize email for things that didn’t involve the word forward. Add to this the fact that I prefer writing as a form of communication and that I YEARNED to have lengthy conversations with strangers about my tonsils, goat farmers, and meatloaf, and you have a woman who was just dying to start a blog. I began wishing that EVERYONE I knew would blog so we could ALL connect and share unlimited details about useless information (with the added benefit of not having to do it six times over the course of three days).
So I started to blog. Some of my family and friends checked in. Some didn’t. And just when I started to have my doubts about whether this was actually going to serve any purpose aside from giving me that much-needed outlet to talk about my crush on Steve Burns, I started getting regular visitors which lead to the the exchange of ideas and empathy, fart jokes and poop stories. In other words, I had begun to cultivate dear, dear friendships.
The following post is my all-time favorite… not because it’s profound or because I got great comments that particular day, but because a blog friend prompted me to write a letter to someone who I hadn’t thought of in a very long time. It was fun and therapeutic, and I’d have never done that if it weren’t for blogging.
Dear Me (circa 1985),
Hi! Itâs me. And you! Twenty-two years older, if you can believe it. I know what youâre thinking. Youâre thinking, âOh my God. IâM OLD.â? No, Iâm OL-DER, thank you very much. But, yes, you are definitely going to become an adult. You’ll drive the modern equivalent of a stationwagon and file income taxes and pay insurance premiums and listen to news radio instead of music. AND you’ll floss daily.
Iâll bet that if I showed you a picture of your future self, youâd be pleased. Youâd be like, âWow! I finally learned how to tame the frizzies! And I smile without looking all panicky and self-conscious! And, oh my God, did I pluck these eyebrows all by myself??â?
Yes, you did. Although, it took some practice and, as you’ll plainly see, theyâre still not terrific. Maybe in another 22 years youâll have it down to a science.
But Iâm not here to talk about our eyebrows. Iâm here to tell you to cheer up, dammit. Believe it or not, you have GOOD reason to be happy. And here it is: Life will NOT always suck, Catherine. I know that you canât wait to get out of Deming and junior high and that one-bedroom house on Birch with the weedy, dirt yard and leaky roof. I also know that telling you to cheer up is kinda like telling you to grow tallerâ¦ it is SO not in your control, right? Oh, but it is, Sweetie. It SO is. What if I told you that you arenât going to live in that thirteen- or fourteen-year-old body for much longer? What if I told you that your hair will be all grown out by ninth grade? More good news: Youâll get an office job filing death certificates at the City, and then youâll be able to buy your own school clothes while learning how that weird man down the street REALLY died. You wonât realize it for AT LEAST another decade, but youâre gonna be pretty cute, if I do say so myself.
So listen to me. Listen carefully. I need you to walk TALL. Donât hunch when the boobage shows up. Hold your head high! Otherwise, you just look like an embarrassed monkey. And speak louder, for crying out loud. Look people in the eyes, too. A soon-to-be famous guy named Dr. Phil would tell your to behave your way to success. He’d say if you ACT confident and secure, pretty soon you will be. It sounds like crap to me, too. But in all seriousness, you have plenty to be confident about. I know you wonât believe this, even if I had it printed in the local paper and announced over Power 102 FM, but you are beautiful. I can say this now because Iâm older than you. You are one of the kindest persons I know. You love and forgive and, for some reason, believe that all people are good deep down inside. (You’ll change your mind about that in 20 years.) A word of advice: Make new friends! Linda, the girl in English who pressures you to share your answers and write her papers? Sheâd make a better friend that the one you call BEST right now. At least with her, what you see is what you get. I know you wonât move on. For some reason, you’ll choose to keep your enemies close. But hereâs the bottom line: You canât change people. Life could be so much easier if youâd only learn that ONE thing. You wonât for awhile yet. So things will get harder before they get better.
But the last thing I want to do is scare you. On the contrary, I want you to know that you persevere and eventually win. What do you win? Happiness, of course! 1985 will become nothing more than an unpleasant memory. Believe me when I say that you wonât always be surrounded by depressed adults, cruel friends, and small children that didnât come from your own womb. You wonât always feel like the only person who truly understands you isnât even a person at all. (You might be interested to know that our Yorky is going to live, like, FOREVER. Let me do the mathâ¦ TWELVE more years from now. I miss her SEVERELY. Please scratch her behind the ears for me. Tell her that, in all these years, no pet has ever come close to replacing her.)
Growing up is tricky business. But you WILL survive, to coin a phrase. What am I saying, you will MORE than survive. Newsflash: You are going to write a book. Laugh all you want, I’m not kidding. But, even more impressive, you’ll have four healthy, highly intelligent, GORGEOUS kids. Okay, quit crying. I said four not FORTY. Besides, you’ll eventually be happily married to a guy who writes better than you do and COOKS. Cooks WELL, I might add. And guess what, you’re gonna have a dishwasher! A garbage disposer! A garage! And a fireplace that youâll never use! Believe it or not, you will eventually take great pleasure in things like coffee, red wine, Simon and Garfunkel, and (don’t faint) kissing. You’ll live on the banks of the Rio Grande in beautiful Colorado where you’ll be surrounded by blue sky, deer, and a bunch of retirees.
Life won’t be perfect, by any means. But youâre gonna be okay. Your kitchen floor will perpetually need a good Swiffering (sweeping isn’t what it used to be). Your future teeth are in need of a good bleachingâ¦ all those dark-colored drinks. You’ll get in a hurry composing a blog post and then use words like EBBING when you meant CREEPING. This will mortify you. Blogsâ¦ youâre gonna be HIGHLY addicted to them. It’s a shame you’ll have to wait so long to get a hit. Lastly, you are gonna have a problem with neighbors snooping around in your mailbox and letting themselves into your home if you leave the front door unlocked. Damn retirees. Just be aware!
But you will continue to try being kind, only you won’t be QUITE so quick to fall prey to the predators of this world anymore. And, for thatâ¦ for that Iâm probably most proud.
There. I’ve just given you PLENTY of reasons to smile. Just… practice in the mirror a little more often, okay? Oh, and go enjoy The Facts of Life while you can ’cause those girls will drop off the face of the earth in a few years.
Your future self (2007)
P.S. PAY ATTENTION when using the table saw in Mr. Ochoa’s shop class.
P.S.S. Stay away from Sun In and Dannyâs cadillacâ¦ both are mistakes of astronomical proportions.