Dear Sixteen (and beyond) Year Old Me,
Hey, what’s up? I know, I know, you’re moody. Mom and Dad have once again forbidden horse back riding due to those Below-85-Grades. You have once again skipped out on your after school tutoring because ‘your teacher wasn’t there’ or ‘they were too busy’. Do they believe you? Of course not. So now you’re sitting on the computer in the library at home taking remedial math courses online and playing that Warrior Cats RPG in secret (I STILL talk about how fun that was, by the way. And you are definitely going to use that creativity and story telling later.) Mom is still on that health kick, right? Be prepared for a lot of vegetables ‘secretly’ hidden in mystery meals and gagging.
Don’t worry, I am not here to steer you straight. Because honestly, I am still on your side. So what if you’re getting only barely decent grades? Yes, that 72 isn’t an 85, but it’s in math. You are terrible at math. You worked your butt off and paid attention to get that 72. Remember when it was a 42? Yeah, hate to break it to you, but Dad still does.
You have that silly black choker that you haven’t taken off in years. (It’s going to make your neck obscenely huge in pictures.) And you are writing that fantasy trilogy with Sarah. You collect Breyer horse figurines, and you sell lost golf balls to golfers in your backyard. You read more than you breathe. You love Nutella. Your room is bright teal, and you still sleep with your closet light on because you swear you see shadows moving in the dark. You are convinced you will never have a love interest and that you will die alone on your ranch with a herd of horses and take out dinners every night, and you’re quite alright with that.
You are also upset about the Tennessee situation. Right now it’s April of 2010. More and more plans for moving are becoming rock solid, and suddenly this fantasy your parents had been dreaming about since they bought that Victorian fixer upper are becoming reality. It’s scary. All of your friends and life are in Texas. Your horse. The highest level of choir you have at school has let you in, and you love singing. You have a driver’s permit and you can’t wait until you can drive Sarah and Ashton to Firewheel Town Center and the movies by yourself. You don’t know a single soul in Tennessee except your family members, and your cousins don’t live in your future school district.
It’s going to be really hard. In fact, you are making plans as we speak to someday return to Texas and live at Horse Haven in a trailer home, riding Heather’s horses and maybe even teaching a few lessons yourself. But it’s hard to focus on that, I know. You have Hunni to think of. You have to find a place for her new home in Tennessee. She depends on you, and you are powerless to do anything to help ease her transition. You are terrified. You’ve never moved before. You’ve only ever known this red brick house with the gazebos and golf course in the backyard, the cicadas in the summer and the crippling cold in the winter.
Like it or not, in October you are going to leave home and end up in Knoxville. And you are going to handle it about as well as getting hit with a bag of bricks. First of all, you are going to be going to this weird school called an academy that has four different sub-academies, a super weird layout and only four classes a day, and early dismissal on Wednesdays. You are going to suddenly have the looming fear of certain classes, such as US Government and Economics, that you are required to take to graduate. (Oh, you might want to remind your school counselor about that when you get next year’s classes. Because she is going to forget and then blame it on you when she finally realizes how much she screwed up two years from now a month before graduation. Good luck with that.)
In November you will turn 17, and in December you are going to meet a boy. He will quickly turn into a boyfriend. He will take advantage of you and say it’s love. Your parents will ban you from seeing him, which will only make you want to see him more, and he will draw out the relationship until September, where he will promptly dump you and then string you along for ‘benefits’ between his girlfriends, and then have the nerve to say he still loves you and that he wants to get back together soon. Again and again. You are going to get your heart-broken, shredded, mauled, pulverized and then spit on by this boy. Don’t trust him. In fact, how about you wait in the cafeteria after school, instead of waiting on the sidewalk for your mom to pick you up? Just don’t go outside. Don’t go outside and start idle chatter with him. Please, I still have issues about that mess. Do us both a favor.
Even though, really, it will turn out okay. Because when you move to Tennessee in October, you are going to meet this chick called Ali. At first she is only going to be a lunch mate that will spare you the loneliness of eating in a bathroom stall by yourself (which you’ve been doing for what, a month now?) But soon you’ll be hanging out with her. Getting more involved in theater because of her. In fact, you will become the Prop Master and you are going to get tons of theater friends. She will be your lifeline and only motivation to get through the rest of high school thanks to the heart breaker you are infatuated with. She is going to be your best friend.
Plus, on graduation day she is going to help you officially get over that loser. Whats better than being best friends? Being your best friend’s brother’s girlfriend, that’s what. If you two thought that college would be the graveyard of your friendship, think again. You are going to get closer than ever, and you are going to meet someone you can envision the rest of your life with. So when the funny girl with glasses and long brown hair offers to sit with you at lunch, accept it with enthusiasm. Trust me.
And you know, I guess you should go outside and wait on the curb and chit-chat with that boy. Because he is going to teach you a lot of lessons, and one day you are going to be grateful that you have knowledge and understanding and perspective. It is going to be great at first and you aren’t going to remember my warning, but that’s okay. You will think you are in love. And he will destroy you. You’re going to be sadder than you’ve ever been, but you are also going to emerge stronger. You were able to survive that. And now you are so much happier and better off, I promise.
Oh, and you are going to keep fighting with Mom and Dad. Again and again and again. But ultimately you still love them, and you know they just want you to be safe and happy. So maybe try going to a few of those tutorials. And quit picking on your brother and take time to hang out with your sister. She will think you are an absolute queen.
I have to go now, I’m at work you see. Yes, you get a real job. As in a desk job staring at a computer and answering the phone all day. Yeah, it’s kinda boring, but it’s better than what a lot of people have. You are going to get your very own Jeep. You’re going to live in a yellow house with your to-be boyfriend, Justin, and have two puppies. You are going to eat meat after a lifetime of vegetarianism. You are going to drop out of college. You will stop riding horses, but ultimately it’s better for Hunni if she never comes here. She is happier at home in Texas. Your life is going to be so much better and so different. Just hang in there. I’ll see you in the mirror, okay?