Dear 18-year-old you:
Ten years ago this week you graduated from high school. You aren’t going to the reunion, but it’s nothing personal. Your husband (you have one! He’s totally a keeper, too) gave you the financial breakdown and said that since you live in England now (seriously! we’ll get to that) you could spend seven days in the south of France or go home for a reunion/Christmas trip. In Maine. In December. You made your choice: Bonjour, Provence!
Anyway, let me tell you a little something about yourself: that yearbook quote and ambition holds up well, but listing “Gifted and Talented” among your activities? Girl. Douche move. But that’s okay; you were really flamingly insecure and we’ll let that one slide. You end up being pretty confident. Quit worrying about your skin. Regrettably, your hair is growing in a mite gray, but at some point in the next ten years a well-meaning friend is going to show you how to work a flat-iron and some texturizing gel. It’s gonna be okay. There’s also going to be something called skinny jeans. They’re horrifying, but you took up running and gave up processed junk food so you own several pairs. Deep breaths. It’s a bold new world. And seriously, that song is not a cliche: wear your sunscreen. You’re going to have some moles removed and the word “melanoma” is going to be bandied about when your daughter is less than a year old and scare the ever-loving shit out of you, so wear the damn Coppertone.
Let me tell you something else: in June 2002, you are six months away from meeting the man who will become your husband. (It’s going to be another three years before you actually start dating. The facial hair is going to take some time to adjust to. You’ll love it, don’t worry.) You are fifteen months away from Labor Day 2003 and the decision to give up vodka forevermore. (Tragically, the decision to give up tequila will not come until 2007.) In four years you’ll be in the middle of 2006. That’s a pretty big year for you. You’re going to get engaged, you’re going to graduate college, you’re going to start your first real job, you’re going to get married, and you’re going to officially become a resident of Maryland. It’s going to be exhausting and you’re going to be confused and maybe not so sure you made the right choices. You did. You absolutely did.
So, about Maryland. Thanks to various career choices, you will never again live in Maine–at least, not full-time. But oh, dude. You’re going to live in Washington, DC and the surrounding suburbs. You’re going to live in Spain. You’re going to live in Hawaii and England. It’s going to be so scary, and so worth it. You’re going to watch the sun set over the Aegean Sea and surf off the O’ahu coast. You’re going to backpack through Japan and rip the heads off steamed shrimp in Portugal and run through the rain in Istanbul. You’re going to work for educational social change and be the editor of a magazine. You’re going to write all the time and take thousands of photographs. It’s going to be pretty bitchin’.
And seven years from now, you’re going to be a mother.
Let that sink in for a second.
You’ll have a daughter. You’ll have two daughters. They’re more beautiful and loving and smart than you could have dreamed. And thanks to a perfect storm of economic downfall and weird opportunities and a shift in life values, you’re going to stay home with them. You’re going to take them all over the damn planet. You’re going to homeschool them. I know. I couldn’t believe it either. You will not recognize the person who’s walking around in your once-18-year-old body.
That’s worth repeating: you will not recognize the 28-year-old person who’s walking around in your once-18-year-old body. It’s totally okay. You’re a nice person. You like to fundraise for charity and crochet things and you can hold your beer. You’re a good mom. You’re a good wife. You’ve never been without health insurance. It’s a good life. It’s an adventurous life; in every conceivable way, it’s a charmed life.
Flip side: you’re going to lose three jobs. Two to the economics of the times and the third, well, you’re just going to be straight-up fired in a highly dramatic, annoying way and it’s going to really suck. You’re going to sink thousands into a really crappy Ford Taurus before you see the light and buy a Honda and graduate with enough college debt to sink Greece. You’re going to lose your grandfather.
Given that those are the worst things to happen to you, you’re pretty lucky. You turned out fine.
You know who’s also going to do just fine? All those people you call your best friends. For real. Get a good look at them now, today, June 2002, because they’re going to light the world up. They’re going to be MDs and PhDs and work to help the poor and the environment; they’re going to travel the world and have beautiful families. And there’s going to be this thing called Facebook (avoid the IPO), so while you may not talk to them every week or month or even every six months, you’re going to have an idea of what they’re up to, and my God. You’re going to be so proud of them.
So, yeah, it’s an exciting time right now. You should be excited. You have a pretty sweet ten years coming up…even factoring in skinny jeans.
P.S. Buy Apple stock.