Story no. 28.

To my twenty-year-old self from my twenty-six-year-old self:
Please don’t stand in front of the mirror in your underwear and sports bra and take a “before” photo. That book Dad has of workout before-and-afters is mostly a lie, and losing weight is not going to make people love you any more or make it any easier to love yourself. When you find that photo in five years, it’s just going to make you sad to remember how much you hated yourself.

From my twenty-year-old self to my twenty-six-year-old self:
. . . wait, but I — we — you — whatever — we do lose weight, right?

From me-at-26 to me-at-20:
. . . not exactly.

Me-at-20 to me-at-26:
WHAT. Do you at least have a boyfriend?

From me-at-26 to me-at-20:
. . . not exactly.

Me-at-20 to me-at-18:
NOTA BENE, sweetheart. You clearly fucked up all our chances by falling for that miserable fucker with the guitar. YOU DAMAGED US AND NOW WE CAN’T HAVE A BOYFRIEND.

Me-at-18 to all-the-mes:
I’m sorry? What are we talking about? I’m sorry?

Me-at-26 to me-at-18:
Ignore me-at-20, okay? Just go ahead and fall in love. It’s going to suck — mostly — but it’s going to make you a better person.

Me-at-18 to me-at-16:
Couldn’t you work on being a better person now so this doesn’t have to suck for me so much?

Me-at-16 to me-at-18:
I have to go to track practice and then rake leaves for old people. Talk to me next year.

Me-at-18 to me-at-17:
Could you please get pretty and confident and good now so freshman year isn’t so awful? Also, can you go back and register for calc through the online AP course and not through the community college? Iowa Western just isn’t cutting it.

Me-at-17 to me-at-18:

Me-at-21 to me-at-17:
Heh, well, that doesn’t really change.


Me-at-21 to me-at-17:
You pretty much just. . . stay lonely. You make friends, though. A couple really good ones, and some that are going to blindside you later.

Side note to 18-me: that girl who’s super friendly on your dorm floor? Maybe . . . don’t . . . talk to her so much. Especially not about any . . . crushes you might have.


Me-at-21 to me-at-17:
No. But you get to be lonely in Japan!

And Spain!

And . . . a different part of Japan! And France!

Me-at-24 in chorus with me-at-25 and me-at-26:
And Switzerland!

. . . oh. What kind of job goes to all those places?

Me-at-26 to me-at-18:
Eheh. Ahahaha. Oh dear.

No kind of job. I’m still  . . . looking, I guess.

Me-at-18 to me-at-19:

Me-at-26 to me-at-19:
No! I mean . . . no, you’re not in the right major. But it’s good enough, okay? You don’t need to pick the perfect thing. You just need to pick something that you like enough and that you can build on. What you’re doing is going to get you where you want to go. But don’t give up on writing, okay? I know it’s hard when you’re so sad and tired all the time, but writing is what you do. Writing is what we all do. Channel some of that sadness into empathy, and channel some of that empathy into making stuff.

Me-at-19 to me-at-26:
Maybe it would be better if I could somehow. . . not . . . be . . . here. I seem to have broken everything.

Me-at-26 to me-at-19:
Well, it’s not going to be the last time, so get used to it.

Me-at-25 to me-at-19:
Why can’t you fucking learn from your mistakes? Maybe then I wouldn’t be in such a shithole now.

Me-at-26 to me-at-25:
Hey. Shut up. You’re in pain, and you’re hurting everyone around you, and you’re hurting yourself.


So I don’t . . . get better?

Me-at-25 to me-at-19:

Me-at-22, 24, and 26 to me-at-19:
You get better at some things. You get different.

I don’t want to keep trying if I’m just going to fail.

Me-at-20 to me-at-19:
You’ll get to stay in Boston next summer, actually. It’s going to be an awesome summer — your best friend from home will make a trip out to see you, and you’ll hide under the Chanel awning on Newbury after you each pick out one amazingly overpriced eyeliner — stay. Please stay. I want to be able to remember this.

Me-at-26 to me-at-20:
Yes! That’s what I’m saying. And you . . . you don’t have to screw up that summer by being sad about being fat.

Me-at-25 to me-at-20:
Yeah, being thinner doesn’t help. But maybe take up bicycling earlier would help.

Me-at-20 to me-at-25:
I’m scared of getting hit by a car.

Me-at-23 to me-at-20:
You should be. One of your classmates just died on Vassar Street. It happens so fast. Everything happens so fast.

Me-at-20 to me-at-26:
Wait, so I don’t live in Boston anymore? Is there something I regret not doing?

Me-at-26 to me-at-20:
Go to New York a few more times. The bus is cheap. You can couchsurf. Go to MoMA. Pull a regular Files of Mrs. Basel E. Frankweiler and hide on the design floor overnight so you have enough time to look at everything.

Me-at-20 to me-at-26:
What’s couchsurfing?

Me-at-16 to me-at-26:
Wait, what about the Scotland trip? Do I ever get to go to Scotland?

Me-at-26 to me-at-16:
You get to go to Scotland. And Ireland. And England. You haven’t been to Germany or Denmark yet.

Me-at-16 to me-at-26:
Wait, I want to go to Germany?

Me-at-26 to me-at-16:
Yes. Yes you do.

Me-at-25 to me-at-26:
Wait a fucking minute! Did you just fall out of love with Captain Oblivious and then straight into love with Uberdeutsch? You fucking moron!

Me-at-26 to me-at-25:
Fuck off and get over yourself. It’s hard for people to love you when even the possibility makes you nauseous with self-loathing.

Me-at-25 to me-at-26:
. . . wait, does he love you back?

Me-at-26 to me-at-25:
No, he doesn’t love me back.

Me-at-25 to me-at-26:
I want to be done now.

Me-at-26 to me-at-25:
But I’m still here, so you’re not done.

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