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Monday, June 15, 2015

Dear Eighteen-Year-Old-Me

This was part of a suggested exercise in response to a piece called "Letter to My 18-Year-Old Self" by Brita James, published in baristanet.com guru Debbie Galant's Mid-Century Modern blog on medium.com

Dear 18-Year-Old Me:

Greetings from the Future! I realize that I (45-Year-Old You) am still not on speaking terms with 16-Year-Old-Me for not lifting weights instead of taking gym class whenever you had the chance. For the record, we’re still thudding three miles around the track everyday trying to get rid of that Burger King sandwich you just ate.

However, since New Jersey is in the midst of celebrating Pride, I’m feeling benevolent. I realize you don’t yet know what that is, sheltered little Catholic School graduate that you are. But someday you will not only come to terms with the way you feel about some of the guys you know, but there will be guys who feel the same way back, and you will no longer think you are some kind of alien species with crossed wires.

Speaking of which, not three months ago, two of those boys in your high school class, who weren’t always the nicest to you, manned up and apologized for the way that they acted, completely unbidden. I know it’s hard to believe now, but 45-Year-Old-You wasn’t even overwhelmed with surprise at this development. People change and grow, and — if you have any kind of conscience at all — it seems to be human nature to carry around those little hurts that you cause, like pebbles in your shoes. Redemption — when you find it — can feel be a relief, and 45-Year-Old-You was actually glad to be a part of that exchange.

We’re not supposed to give spoilers, but you’ve seemed kind of in the dumps lately, so I’ll throw you one. Breathe a word of it and I’ll deny everything, mind you, but listen: Right now, in a house not that far from your freshman dorm room with the roommates you’re afraid of, a ten-year-old boy is growing up fast. Years from now, when you’re both what you currently consider ancient (don’t think I didn’t hear that!), he will cross your path and catch your eye. In a church, no less. Yes, I know a church just told you to take a hike, but God won’t give up on you just because that nun did, and when it’s time, you’ll grudgingly come around.

A few years after that (I should warn you, they keep going by faster, like some crazy carnival ride) you and he will be the proud uncles of nine (count them, nine) beautiful and intelligent nieces and nephews, and each of your families will treat you like there’s nothing wrong with you being together. Because there isn’t.

So hang in there, 18-Year-Old Me. The best is yet to be.

Knowing what you do now, what would you tell your eighteen-year-old-self? Keep the party going by replying to Brita's original letter, and/or using the hashtag #Dear18YOMe.

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