Forgot your password?

We just sent you an email, containing instructions for how to reset your password.

Sign in

  • Hey. Hi. Happy summer to an 18-year-old me! Are you feeling ready for Mackinac Island? The job might fall through a bit but this summer will be interesting. You will surely come back with stories.

    I wish I remembered more than the roommate who thought she was the reincarnation of Pamela Courson (Jim Morrison’s lover) and an exciting night of white Bronco watching, catching a ride with carriage drivers and the smell of horses, lilacs and fudge intrinsically linked, such meager takings from a summer so far from home. I remember the drive home from the airport. Maybe you could bring something back for me? I think we still have 10 dollars in a bank account there.

    How is it possible that 20 years have passed since we last met? Was it not just yesterday that we watched the Smurfs after swim lessons, danced in Autumn’s living room, and read Nancy Drew, running through the neighborhood searching for clues and feeling a delicious chill creep down our spines? Summer camp? The jungle gym? A crush on a boy with red shoes? Where has the time gone? They're long gone, even for you.

    You look good. Great, really. (Why did we ever think we were fat?) Stop listening to the voices that tell you that you are and stop drinking syrup of ipecac. Nothing good can come from that; you have enough to handle without throwing up. You are already so tired, working all weekend, cleaning rooms at Best Western, maintaining an honors course load. Vomit won’t help. The damage to your metabolism will last for the rest of our life. I’d say to lay off the starches, too, but they are cheap and you are poor. Just... walk a little more? Remember to breathe? And stop piercing your ear. The right one. How many holes do you need? You are allergic to the earrings.

    I know you don’t want advice. Besides, who am I to give it? At 38, I have not figured anything out. Even if I had, it wouldn't be mine to give. I would not be the person I am without the decisions you'll make; your choices, right or wrong, good or bad, are part of us. Your future. My past. I trust you. You are a good person.

    I don’t want to give you advice. I just… I know how hard life is right now. Thank you for all that you have done and all you continue to do. I would like to say that it won’t get harder but it will. Mom and Bob will leave the country, taking the boys with them. Over Christmas this year, you will have to close up the cabin, drop off the car, and find someplace to stay for a couple of weeks. You'll have to find someplace for breaks over the next year because you cannot stay on campus. You will be fine.

    In a year or so, you will try to make something that feels like home for the brother coming back for his last year of high school. (Honestly, you will do that for the rest of your life.) He will live with our stepdad's ex-wife and her husband, but he will stay with you for a month in the summer even though you are just a kid, too, and working four jobs. In the fall, you will make Thanksgiving dinner in your first college apartment and watch movies all day. It will actually be kind of fun.

    When your back windshield shatters in an ice storm before finals week, you will figure something out. You will also stress bake eight different types of cookies in one night, giving some to everyone you know, but you will be fine. You will fix your car. You will pass your classes. It won’t be the best semester of your life. It won't be the worst either, but it will be hard.

    In the spring, you will be mocked by a friend for needing directions to Dad’s house. (You have never driven there.) That friendship will end but the song you learn in the car will stick for decades. Suck it in, suck it in, suck it in if you're Rin Tin Tin or Anne Boleyn. Make a desperate move or else you'll win and then begin to see what you're doing to me. This MTV is not for free. It's so PC it's killing me so desperately I sing to thee of love, sure, but also of rage and hate and pain and fear of self and I can't keep these feelings on the shelf.

    Dad will tell you not to bother coming back so you won’t, not for years. He will come for an awards ceremony your senior year and while it will be nice to have someone there to see you get the award, you would have been fine on your own. You will earn it yourself. You deserve it.

    People will hurt you. You will hurt them, too, but some of the friends you are making now will be with you for the rest of your life. They are important.

    You are important.

    I know you are scared that you will miss out on something if/when you leave, but you won’t. Life will happen wherever you are and you’ll be damned good at living it. One of the best. I would tell you of the places you'll go and the things you will see. I would tell you of health, wealth, and decisions I wish I had made but that wouldn't be fair. This is your life to live and I wouldn't be me without it.

    Trust yourself. Laugh often and hard. Know that I love the person you are as well as the one you will become, whatever you do. We might not meet for 20 years but I've got your back. I've always had it and I always will.

    With love and respect,

    P.S. Good call on the tattoo. Marvin the Martian would not have stood the test of time.
    • Share

    Connected stories:


Collections let you gather your favorite stories into shareable groups.

To collect stories, please become a Citizen.

    Copy and paste this embed code into your web page:

    px wide
    px tall
    Send this story to a friend:
    Would you like to send another?

      To retell stories, please .

        Sprouting stories lets you respond with a story of your own — like telling stories ’round a campfire.

        To sprout stories, please .

            Better browser, please.

            To view Cowbird, please use the latest version of Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Opera, or Internet Explorer.