Tuesday, July 26, 2011

tiny memoir: letter to 14-year old me

(that's me in the middle)

first of all, can i just say that i admire you for smiling even though you were always in a state of growing out some hair experiment (bad perm, trying to lighten your dark hair with sun-in, "temporary" blue dye, etc.)?  your adventurous spirit is inspiring.

second, it makes me a bit sad when i see you here and know that you felt you were fat.  i think this was the one-meal-a-day of chicken broth and plain baked potato period.  thank you for eventually learning to love good food and treating your body with respect.

i love that you carry a trapper-keeper.  its presence here forecasts your talent for organization.  there will be many a binder in your future.

you have good friends who share a history with you.  you will swear to be best friends forever and sit up nights making grand plans to attend university together, have a double wedding and play tennis on the weekends after you have children.  what you do not know yet is that you will move on to different friends with different plans and another type of swearing.  you do not know that you will not see or speak to some of these friends for decades or longer.  and a few of them won't make it to university or their own weddings, let alone the tennis courts.  thank you for being loyal and listening and having a laugh with them.  thank you for seeing them and accepting them.  thank you for being their student and their teacher, for honoring each relationship for what it offered at the time.  and for knowing when to move on before the friendship was ruined.

your smile is engaging.  everybody says so.  you and i know that it hides secrets and hurt and deeds that you think are unforgivable.  or even worse, unremarkable.

i love that you went to a green high school with octagonal buildings.

a few bumpy decades lie ahead of you.  you will do some dangerous things.  you will become a mother much too early.  your heart will be broken not once, but twice.  you will become practiced with that smile.  you will learn not to trust.  and then slowly learn to trust again.

here's something remarkable:  one day you will look back and honor all the mistakes, misteps and misadventures.  turns out they make for a pretty interesting life.  i'm really happy you came through, not entirely unscathed but certainly unbroken.  strong.  and soft.

i can't think of anything to warn you about or advise against.  you will take risks and have a lot of fun and pay a price.  sometimes you will be too careful with your heart.  other times you will be too careless.  you will love people and then think they didn't deserve your love, but they did.  you will throw yourself into experiences with wild abandon, then quietly tiptoe away before the party is over.  you will read many good books and dance away many nights.  you will embarrass yourself time and time again with your wit and your loud mouth.  you will save an acquaintance from suicide but not know how to soothe a crying baby.  you will always be comforted by sitting with a dog.  each time you watch the sunset, your breath will catch in awe.

i can tell you to be authentic (and that you really don't like tennis), but the process of life...experience, editing, observation, reflection, awareness...will show you how.  i can tell you to be patient but this may be the thing you never learn.  i can tell you to love wide open, but you can't help this and do it even against your better judgement. 

you will really enjoy this journey to fullness. 

i'm really proud to know you.  to be you.