Dear 16 year old self,
It’s me/you ten years from now. October 2014 and you wouldn’t believe some of the decisions we’ve made and what your life is like now. Believe it or not, you’ve been married and divorced, live in Denver, have gone to 3 different schools for higher education, have no kids, don’t eat red meat, have a few tattoos, and you run a book club. Not exactly what you were thinking your life would be like in ten years, huh? Oh and you’re gonna get pretty fat at some point so enjoy the solid size 3 you’re at now.
I know this is a crazy time for you right now. You’re working two jobs while being a full time high school student, one of your best friends is about to have a baby, you’re starting to get into some things and involved with some people you shouldn’t be (and believe it or not weed is legal where you live now and you really don’t care). But as crazy as things already are, you’re about to have a life changing month.
First of all, I know you’re thinking about quitting your job at the restaurant. You’re saying it’s because your boss is a jerk who doesn’t pay you enough but we both know it’s because you’re tired of working weekends at night and early in the morning between the two jobs and the restaurant is the morning gig, which cuts into the partying. You shouldn’t quit- at least not yet and I’ll tell you why.
The day before you quit, and by quit I mean walk out of your shift, you’re going to get some HUGE news. It’s likely this fuels your decision but I know you’ve been thinking about it for a while. It’s hard to work two jobs and go to school and party all the time. The day after you quit, you’re going to total your car. Your pregnant best friend is going to be riding passenger- neither of you are going to be wearing seat belts. Keep in mind, had you not quit, you wouldn’t have been driving to a gas station and a large Cadillac wouldn’t have had an opportunity to run a red light and hit you. Your accident will make the front page of the paper though, so there’s that.
Don’t worry too much though, your friend’s baby (your godson) is fine and is born healthy 8 days later, same day as your school’s equivalent of a fall/winter formal- something you were looking forward to. Now, though your face has been “burned” by bouncing off the airbag and your hair/head was cut by the rearview mirror…and you don’t have a car to drive to this dance in, it’s not looking like so much fun. I know, most people are thinking it’s crazy for the woman to drive anyways but as you know, the boy situation has been a little tricky as of late so you’re going with one of your other best friends who doesn’t have a car. It’s tough to be 16.
Back to the accident- everyone is going to want you to go to the hospital to get checked out, but you don’t want to. I know why, and you’ll know soon enough too. Plus, you’re fine. In fact, after some pain killing medications you decide to go hang out with your friends for a few drinks. I wish I didn’t have to tell you that you’re going to make a mistake tonight. You’re going to take something from somebody that they won’t ever get back and three years later on Halloween, that person will perish in a car accident. I know you’ve had some experience with it already, but drunk driving is going to take a few people away from you as the years go on- one person in the yard of a house your parents will end up buying.
The rest of this month doesn’t sound so promising, huh? Sorry about that. Probably because of everything going on and knowing what I know of how much of a struggle November and December will be as well (but a big problem is solved, though it creates more for you to deal with later), you’re going to quit orchestra and I wish you wouldn’t. Music is a huge part of my/our life and we have a bass now (cool, right?!) but I wish violin hadn’t been given up.
Things get easier in 2005- there’s a bout of stupid decisions and some mild alcohol poisoning, but there are some good things too. You date someone you absolutely shouldn’t but through him you get a puppy towards the end of the year that you guys save from the would-be meth lab across the street from his trailer. Well, dad ended up with and still has that puppy and as you can imagine Cookie isn’t going to make it much longer—be prepared to see dad cry for that. Also, at the end of 2005 you start dating the neighbor boy…and you guys are going to get married, but it won’t last and there are a lot of things he’ll prevent you from doing, both good and bad.
2006 starts off pretty well, since you’ve quit smoking you’ve started to put on a little weight and I know that bugs you but you’re mostly sober…or a lot more so than you were a few months ago so that’s good. As spring and graduation approach, Cookie needs to be put down and at some point your uncle Dean comes to visit. I wish with every wish I have that you would spend more time with him while he’s there instead of your boyfriend because even though graduation is 3 weeks away and you think you’ll see Dean then, that’s actually the last time you’ll ever see him. He takes his life 5/11/06. I know. We never saw it coming. This is probably a little bit contributory to a few more pounds on your waistline.
College will be cool for you- but you end up not going where you want to go because the boyfriend won’t move that far away, so you’re still stuck in South Dakota. You meet a lot of people, but partially due to the boy, you don’t apply yourself as you should and guess what—we’re not becoming a vet. So you’ll transfer to community college and get a diploma in child development and eventually start working for the school district which is where you’ll be working when you get married in November of 2009 and where you’ll be working when you get divorced in January of 2011. Seems a little bleak, right? It starts to look up a little bit I promise.
July of 2011 you’re going to finally get out of S.D. and move to Denver. Awesome, I know! Finally, some place you feel you belong and as you’re getting really established in your new surroundings, it’s time for a trip home for the holidays. Grandma gets sick while you’re home for Christmas and it’s a good thing you took two weeks of vacation. She’s admitted to the hospital Christmas Eve and its cancer. I’m heart- broken to say she doesn’t make it and will die January 10th of 2012, 6 days after you return to Colorado from your Christmas trip. You’re very lucky in the way that you have a great support system in your family and in Colorado and even someone special with a big role in your life that comes back with you to help you through it and you’ll always appreciate that.
The rest of 2012 goes well and you’re happy— and did I mention not as fat? Yeah, it pretty much melts off after moving since you’re so much happier and there’s a lot more to do. In fact, you’ve lost almost 40 pounds. Life is pretty good. Oh and 2012 will take you to Mexico for work which is amazing and fuels the desire to travel! 2013 starts with an unforgettable trip to Disney world with the same person you have been building a life with since the end of 2011 and the same one that was with you for your grandma’s passing. 2013 is also the year you’ll go back to school for medical billing and coding of all things, but I have this feeling you’re going to really enjoy it and land a pretty sweet job after your internship. Unfortunately, you’re going to go to school immediately after a very unexpected break-up and honestly this will be the most heart breaking split you’ve experienced thus far. But look at all you’ve gone through, and you’ll get through this and come out stronger and still happy…and even less fat! You’re down almost 50 pounds now and the best you’ve looked since the beginning of your senior year. Finally, September of 2014 after living with people from craigslist for a year, you and your sweet pooch live by yourself and for really the first time in your life. While everyone else is having babies (on purpose these days) and getting married, you’re happy about your new apartment and the independence that comes with it. You’ve also started something new over the summer with someone who’s pretty great, so enjoy that and we’ll see where it takes us 🙂
So, there you have it. Enjoy the time you have now and know there are some huge bumps ahead but you’ll always come out the other side eventually and a little stronger. Make sure the people you love know how you feel before it’s too late. Keep on keepin’ on and maybe we’ll catch up in another 10 years and see where we’re at.