Hello Old Friend,

It’s been about 24 years, and I want you to know that everything is fine. It’s not exactly what you envisioned life would be like back when you knew it all in high school. But, I swear to you, it’s more than fine — it’s perfect!

I want to start by telling you that time moves quickly. The days will often seem long, but the years will be short. So, soak in all of those milestones you are so looking forward to. I can tell you that you haven’t met your Knight in Shining Armor yet because you are still dating boys that are all wrong for you, but your wedding will be (and will always remain) one of the happiest days of your life. Pay attention to the little moments and try not to let all of the beautiful things in life pass you by with nary a glance.

Interestingly enough, despite six years of Latin, you will no longer be able to read your diploma. You will also forget most of the Spanish you learned. And the chemistry, and the biology, and the trigonometry. But, oddly enough, you will retain the lyrics to all of those Wham, Bob Marley, Madonna, Prince, and Backstreet Boys songs. And, your life will always have a soundtrack, so keep listening to music and soaking those lyrics in. Music will get you through some tough times, it will be your happy anthem in joyous times, and a familiar song will often transport you back to those moments that happen so fleetingly. I guess, if I could give you any advice about this, it woud be to take your music classes a little more seriously. Because, no, music classes aren’t for dorks.

I suppose I should have reached out to you sooner, because I could have spared you a lot of pain and heartache with the opposite sex. He is not the one. And, no, he is not the one either. Nope, not him. Keep walking, that one is a loser too. Be patient. You will find your true love on accident, when you least expect it, and at a time when you are vehemently swearing off love altogether. And no, he won’t be “your type,” but he will love you with a pure, limitless love that you have never experienced before. He will treat you with respect and will never harm you with his words or with his hands — something that you are not necessarily used to experiencing, but for a love like that you will wait 20-something years. The waiting is worth it, and I would like to let you in on a little secret: love is not supposed to hurt.

Family picture

Let me talk to you for a few seconds about our family. Despite what goes on behind closed doors, it is not your fault and you have nothing to be embarrassed about. They say that children learn what they live, and you have learned a lot of unpleasant things over the years. Forget all those things — PRONTO! Instead, focus on the good and the positive. And, be much nicer to your mother and your sister because there will come a day in the not-too-distant future when they are pretty much the only two blood relatives you can really count on.

You are not a bad person because you are not Catholic. Ignore the haters, because some of those CCD-attending, rosary-wearing, Our-Father-chanting church-goers will be the meanest and cruelest people you have ever met. Twenty four years have passed, and I still don’t believe that if there is a God he would condone hate. Your beliefs are perfect for you, and your spirituality is just as beautiful and meaningful as any organized religion.

Let me talk to you a minute about dad. He is a disappointment, I know that. But again, it’s not your fault. And, I am so, so sorry that you had to hear the words, “you don’t need me any more, you have a boyfriend” as he, for all intents and purposes, walked out of your life. No daughter should ever hear that from her father — especially not in those early teenage years when you still consider yourself Daddy’s Little Girl. He will continue to disappoint, and hurt, and will cause you tremendous pain. He is never going to change! And, after you give him the absolute privilege of walking you down the aisle, walk away and don’t look back (and don’t you ever, ever feel bad for doing so)! Once again, love is not supposed to hurt and there will come a time when you have your own daughters to protect. He will not deserve their innocent love, and they will not deserve his pain. It is better this way.

I am going to tell you to choose a different career path. I know you are not going to listen to me, but I am going to tell you anyways. I know that right now, you have this big, audacious dream of being the Head Athletic Trainer for the Boston Bruins — but, trust me, even 24 years from now, women are not going to be a prominent feature in the locker rooms of men’s professional sports. Plus, you are going to be more family oriented than career oriented. You may disagree with me now, but trust me — I have 24 years of experience on you! I know things.

Speaking of the Bruins, keep watching, but don’t get your hopes up for a Stanley Cup anytime soon. They don’t even have a legitimate shot until 2011. Yes, two thousand and freakin’ eleven! I don’t want to break your heart — but they are also going to trade Ray Bourque and he will go on to win a Stanley Cup with another team and then retire. I know you are in disbelief, but are you okay? Do you need a tissue?

Favorite things

Some pretty crazy stuff is going to happen. Trippy techno stuff. You may want to sit down for this part! You WILL finally get your MTV — and it will be so awesome at first. But, then they will stop playing videos altogether and it will get dumb – so don’t waste too much time on it. In the not too distant future, televisions will be about as thin as a paperback book. There will be a couple iterations, but your Sony Walkman will be replaced by a Discman and then there will be an iPod where you buy your music online and store it on this device (also, Strawberries will no longer be a favorite hangout, because they are going to go out of business). You are going to be able to read books on this device with no pages. You keep getting grounded for the STUPID things you put in those notes you pass in class….but, you will look back later and be forever grateful that you did not have the ability to be stupid on Facebook, YouTube, and via text message. A note can be burned (because there are no scanners or digital cameras yet), but the shit that people put on those interwebs will live there FOREVER. Yes, forever! Be thankful that by the time this technology rolls around, you will be older, married, and a lot more conservative. However, your passion for writing and storytelling will live on in your ‘blog’ — which is a really silly word if you think about it —  but a blog is the equivalent to an online diary.

Sand dunes Cape Cod

A couple quick things before I let you get back to teasing your hair and spritzing your Love’s Baby Soft: That stuff you are agonizing over now, as all sixteen year-olds do, is not worth your time. It will all be okay. I promise. I don’t condone fighting, but that girl deserved the beating she got because nobody should ever be allowed to call you a cunt — EVER. You are so strong and athletic — continue to love, respect, and nurture your body, even when you feel it has let you down. Keep your sense of humor intact — life can get hard sometimes, but your laughter will help get you through and your smile will be infectious. Treasure the friends you make in college — they will be your friends for life. You will know no greater joy than the joy of being a mother. You will eventually move to the ‘burbs and you will love it — but stay connected to the city. That is where your deepest roots are. Don’t ever move away from the ocean — it is your happy place and your children will learn about nature and the tides from you. You will continue to be a work in progress, long into adulthood. Be okay with that — growth is good. And, it might take a lot longer than you anticipate — but I just know you are going to find your path and go on and make a difference in people’s lives. You have very, very bright things in store.
Boston skyline
Always, always know you are beautiful, you are worth it, and you are so very loved.

The Almost 40 Year-Old Version of You