My darling younger self,
What I am doing is nothing new. In fact, writing letters to your younger self is downright hackneyed. Everyone does it. I guess I could also try to write your epitaph while I’m at it!!!! Okay, but that’s for later in our therapy.
First, we’ll address us when we were 20. Nice time. We are/were was young and thin. Still living in Austin before the severe leftist intrusion the late 80’s. College was fun, like high school with ash trays. It was a raucous time to be alive. Back then, no one tried so hard to be different. Uniqueness just was– not a lifestyle pursuit.
Remember how we moved every time the rent went up? It was a hassle to be a full-time student working at a crappy job that introduced itself to you as a crappy job. We knew it when we said “Yes to the stress”. But you’ll do just fine. You’ll learn to live within your means and you already know about talking at a higher octave to buy a cheaper Happy Meal without the guilt.
Never forget get those insidious roach infested apartments we lived in. They were and for some time, will be, tiny and cramped. Lean to’ with shingles. But you’ll appreciate that you have a roof over your head and indoor plumbing. But never forget, the DNA of a hundred previous tenants will always be swirling on every surface. Avoid the petri dish that will be your kitchens. Look into healthy ways of employing anorexia in your life, if possible. You won’t want to place food, much less eat it, anywhere near most of your kitchen counters.
For a time in your early twenties to age 30 or so,, the only letters you’ll receive will be returned check notices from your bank. You’ll learn to hate that distinctive shade of pink paper that shouts “welcher…..loser” behind the envelope’s cellophane window. But I beg you, don’t beat yourself up about this. Why? Because you will survive the “student experience”. You’ll make those particular sacrifices while still young in life. You’ll live in neighborhoods that were shady because like your neighbors, you didn’t have a choice. At least not in the fiscal sense. And yes, the chasm between you and “the haves” will exist, especially while still in college, You’ll look enviously at those rich, indulged sorority types who were on parents-ships, totally subsidized by mummy and daddy. You used to think their only goal for four years was to pledge the right sorority, date the right guy from the proper Texas zip code and study, in between winters in Cabo and spring breaks in Gstaad. But I want you to let go of any resentment ASAP. It’s reductive and besides, everyone has a veneer, a lovely candy coating…..and consequently, everyone has a price to pay for everything. The Big Mental Get Even comes later, I promise. You’ll be amazed how once you’re in the real world, the playing field will be leveled. Not completely, but more so than it was during your college days. You’ll grow up, mature and see the error in your thinking.
Oh and while I’m at it, don’t date any jocks at while at The University of Texas. It won’t end well.
For him, as it turns out.
You’ll have a kickass career, especially at the very beginning and while the money isn’t flooding in, your star is rising and you will be heralded in ways you only imagined at age six. On air, you are loved unconditionally and disliked with as much passion. Learn to edit criticism from viewers and listeners and for God’s sake, run like hell from broadcast consultants. All they know is resentment from an on-air career that went to hell or worse, never went anywhere. They’re Satan’s spawn on a salad plate filled with nettles. General Managers are generally full of hot air too, their hands still aching from all the knives they plunged into other people’s backs. They will eventually stumble and fall as well. You’ll learn that failure and disappointment are viable and unavoidable facts of life. Embrace them. They are lessons indeed, but not necessarily pass/fail courses. You can choose your mode of testing.
In order to do that, I urge you to avoid pilots, ignore the tall, handsome Canadian. Stay clear of the lure of fame even if regional, even if it’s on lowest rung on the show biz latter. Try to abstain from all the stuff that feels good and either sounds like, or actually includes the letter “x” anywhere its title. Imbibe less. Learn that Love is more, much more than a few commonalities, A mutual love of chicken coop welding will bring you together, but it’s not enough to keep you together. Love is complicated, regardless of how easy it can feel. Use common sense, don’t be a doormat. Reinforce your spine.
Please let go of that precious little lion cub by 1975. Trust me, your life will be easier. Adolescent first loves are too often idealized and never a reason to seek a vacuum cleaner hose before shutting the garage door. It just feels like the end of the world. It isn’t. There’s power in release.
Learn that donuts aren’t sweet bagels, don’t date co-workers. Madonna will always be thinner than you AND might I add, always a year older. Calibrate the mania in your life, keep stress on low and battle the inertia, where possible. And please know this—it’s perfectly fine to be vulnerable, just not to the point of exploitation.
So, be kinder to yourself than I was. I’m sorry for some of the decisions I made….not so much what I did, but who I did. Had I been wiser, the tone of this letter would be far less cautionary. But in spite of all the warnings, there will be good times in your life and yes, you will know joy, but understand that (unless you did an unscripted 180 and became a cloistered nun), it’s not a constant. It should be, but it can’t be, no matter what bill of goods you or someone else is trying to sell you. . You’re an errant human and you’ll know joy’s varying degrees throughout your life. Revel in its presence. Use time wisely, it never seems to stop until it has passed. Oy. Enjoy your memories but stay focused on your dreams and goals. And uh….being the first female broadcaster in space, isn’t one of them.
Marriage and motherhood can be In the picture should you choose to form a civil union or procreate….providing the ovaries can produce anything but powdered eggs. That’ll be an issue. But you’ll welcome menopause and be okay with aging, as long as you don’t attach anything numerical to the process. Stay away from fun house mirrors and laugh, loudly and often. Walk tall, learn to accept and respect your gifts. You have more than you allowed yourself to realize. Avoid complex carbohydrates and refuse the urge to celebrate your birthday during Fiesta in San Antonio, 1991. The trip there will literally wreck your life.
Lastly and perhaps the most important thing Older Me can impart to Younger Me would be this: your mother wasn’t Kreskin. She was wrong about a lot of things.
You at 56.