Back to the Future
Posted by wendiwendy
Dave, Paige and I were all just hanging out, reading and job hunting and watching football, when I remembered something. I rummaged around in one of my hanging files until I found a sealed envelope bearing the inscription, “To future me from 16 year old me.”
“Hey,” I told Paige, “I couldn’t remember what year it was for, but I remembered that you gave me a couple of envelopes a few years ago for when you were older. I thought one might have been for 18, but it’s for age 21. And then there’s this.” I handed her the envelope. “Do you want to open it now or save it?”
She turned the envelope over in her hands with a puzzled look on her face. “You don’t remember writing this, do you?” I asked with a grin. She shook her head with a little chuckle.
We are alike in so many weird little ways. When I was in elementary school, I wrote myself a note that I planned to open when I was an adult. It was so hard for me to imagine what the future would be like, what I would be like, and I was sure that my future self would forget what it was like to be the age I was then. I’ve always lived a little too much in my head, and I imagine I thought I was the only kid to ever think of doing this.
I opened my note to my future self when I was in high school and I was cleaning out my dresser drawers, unearthing the note I’d written years earlier. Like Paige, I couldn’t remember what I’d written. I sat down to read, but all I remember from that letter was this: “Do you still like me?” I suppose I thought my future self would look back on my childhood self and wish I hadn’t been the kid I was…who knows? It was so plaintive and, well, kind of desperate-sounding that I was embarrassed for myself; I tore up the letter and threw it away.
This future self wishes she could gently cuff her teenage self on the head and say, “Hey, get over yourself. Save these things; they aren’t embarrassing!” (There are a lot of things I destroyed as a teenager, poetry and stories and tapes of myself singing and talking when I was a kid, and I would give anything to still have them now.)
Paige slid her finger under the edge of the envelope and eased it open. Inside was a folded Post-It note. She unfolded it and stared at the words on the paper, then started giggling. “Why?” she laughed. “Why did I even write this?!” She passed the paper to me.
“Read your child the book Go the Fuck to Sleep.”
We laughed together as we pondered the reasons her 16 year old self felt this was an important missive for her future self. Who knows?! All I know is, my daughter has better sense than I did at her age. She put the envelope in a box along with all her other mementos, something to laugh and marvel at again in the future, after she’s once again forgotten she wrote it.