Wednesday, December 05, 2007

There'll never be a better chance to change your mind

I read about this over at Kerstin's, and decided to give it a run. By the way, check her site out. Good stuff.

Anyway. The premise: compose a letter to your 13 year old self. That's it.

Dear 13 Year Old TK:

Hey there. Yeah, I know this is weird. But I think there are some things you need to know. It's currently 1988, and you're in the middle of Junior High School. So let's start there. I guess your sister is in high school and being an insufferable bitch. You probably just moved into the new house, which will be your favorite house ever until you're... oh, about 30 years old. In a couple of years you'll be jumping off the roof into the snow banks.

That blond kid with the glasses? Don't waste your time being friends with him. Eventually, you're going to get busted for shoplifting and he's going to blame the whole thing on you (and Dad is going to knock you around pretty badly for it). Yeah, he's kind of a dick. But it should make you feel better to know that if you do go through with it, when you're 17 or so and have grown a lot more, you're going to beat his ass. He'll totally have it coming.

Speaking of growing... um... the next few years? Are going to be kind of awkward. The good news is you don't have to worry about being the small kid for much longer. I know you're only 5 feet tall, but trust me. Your enormous feet should be a good hint. In the next 2-3 years, you'll grow about 14 inches. Seriously. It's hard to believe, but it's true. So... um... eat more. Or else you're gonna be painfully skinny. Yes, I hate to admit it, but Mom is totally right about this. She's also right about not buying you nice clothes, since you're going to need new ones every 4 months.

OK... I'll tell you this, but I don't think it's going to matter. You're going to hurt yourself. A lot. And soon. I'd tell you to stay off your bike and don't go play football when you get the call in 8th grade, but the truth is, knowing us as I now know us... you're gonna find a way to hurt yourself no matter what. So don't sweat it. But you should really do the physical therapy after you break your left arm the third time, because now it's not terribly useful.

On that note, you're going to break your thumb soon. Badly. I mean, you'll snap that fucker right in two. I'd tell you how it's going to happen, but it's much more fun as a surprise. Plus, it'll make for a good story later in life. And it'll get you out of history class.

By the way - wear your damn glasses more.

High School is going to suck. But it sucks for everyone, so don't sweat it. But my two biggest pieces of advice are: go to class more, and no matter what you do, DO NOT GO AFTER EITHER OF THE CURLY-HAIRED GIRLS. Only heartbreak will ensue, and it will take you a long time to recover. Trust me on this. There is one curly-haired girl who will make your life great, but neither of them is her. Stick with the tall blonde, she's perfectly nice and won't mistreat you. It'll ultimately fail, but that's high school. Also, be less of a jerk when you break up with her.

Don't sweat the drugs. Seriously. Just go ahead and try them, have fun. You're going to end up fine. But... maybe don't drop acid that Thursday morning in homeroom, because that entire day was a disaster. And I guess you should avoid trying the hard stuff. Nothing bad really came about from it... but it just wasn't a great idea.

Oh, right... Hey, Mom is gonna fight with you about your clothes, your hair, and your earrings. My advice? Let her win. Seriously. It's no big deal. You're gonna get some goofy haircuts in college and then get a bunch of tattoos anyway, so just let her have that small victory.

Listen. About Dad. This is the hardest part, because I know you kind of hate him right now. But try to be patient with him. It's not going to be easy, and you've got another year or two of scattered beatings before he stops. But he will stop. Although... he'll still be a pain in the ass. Look, he's... he's a pretty angry guy. And he doesn't really know how to handle these things. But he'll learn. I promise.

It's... hard to explain.

And... he's going to apologize eventually, believe it or not. It's going to be one of the top-five weirdest days of your life. You're not going to know how to react, because it's going to be blurted out at dinner. And when he does? Do me a favor... Get up and hug the sonofabitch. It's going to be his most vulnerable moment, and he's going to need it. I regret never acknowledging that to him.

For God's sake, drive safely.

College is going to be an unholy mess. I'd tell you to drink less and go to class more, but I don't think it'll do any good. Amazingly, you won't have any serious girl-related drama. Incidentally, the curly-haired girl you meet in college? THAT'S "the one". But you're going to know it right away anyway, so don't worry about remembering this. Try to be less of a pretentious asshole, and for God's sake, stop making fun of the Midwestern kids, because that East-coast ego is going to earn you some enemies.

Also... the hardest time of your life is going to be the summer of 1996, when Mom and Dad move. It's going to be brutal. I have no advice, nothing that can make it easier. It'll get better, but never heal. But I guess that's why you should be nicer to them, because eventually, you're not going to have them around, and you will be amazed at how much you miss them.

Your sister will continue to annoy you. And you'll continue to love her in spite of it. Deal with it.

After college - you're going to panic. You won't have a home or a job. Relax. These things will work themselves out, though I'd advise avoiding that first apartment in Allston. That place will turn into a nightmare. And believe me when I tell you that you'll be surprised at the direction you'll go in, career-wise. Let's just say there's more of Dad in you than you think. The good parts, that is.

That's about it. Nothing too earth-shattering, right? Oh, three final things:

1. Your two best friends in high school will probably be your two best friends forever.

2. Don't give up on the Red Sox or Patriots. Just... trust me on this.

3. Don't get your hopes up when you hear about new Star Wars movies.

There you go. Enjoy the next 19 years until you get to here.


PS - Oh, fuck it. Eat more damn vegetables, OK? I mean it.


Manny said...

Good stuff, bro.

Maxine Dangerous said...

Wonderful. Great letter. :)

Max (who is avoiding gushing because it feels kind of weird with someone I basically don't really know, but OMG now I want to write one of those)

A Lover and a Fighter said...

Really solid work, my friend. I'm proud of you.

onthevirg said...

Good stuff man. I think I'm going to have to steal this idea for a post.

elyse the portuguese said...

I loved this.

Manny said...

Present letter to past self is up now. And my head just up and went kerblooey.

girl with curious hair said...

This was lovely, TK. Although, I can't say I didn't laugh hysterically when you resigned yourself to your bike injuries.

Vermillion said...

You forgot to add that he should Scotch Gard everything he owns as soon as possible. And buy lots of stainproof clothing as soon as they are commercially available.

Alex the Odd said...

Very good magic, Mr. TK. I am of course stealing this idea also.

country roads said...

oh wow. This is really something! Beautiful, man.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Nicey done. That was a lot more vulnerable and heartfelt than I thought it was going to be. Again, I too may be stealing this idea.

mindy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mindy said...

"Stop making fun of the Midwestern kids"

I've been telling people this for years. We're really pretty great.

Also, this was good. And I might steal the idea. Thanks.

Kerstin said...

Wow. Nice work.

TK said...

Thank you everyone for the kind words. I'd planned to make this a funny letter, and it didn't really happen. Glad y'all liked it, and good luck with your own (should you choose to do so).

Anonymous said...

Holy fuck, Mr. Glass! You broke the same arm three times?


I too had a crazy friend in middle school who was addicted to shoplifting and tried to rope me into it. Was it something about jr. high in the late eighties or is it all kids at that age have sticky fingers?

me said...

Wow, I wish I could come up with something as perfect as this. Great letter, now tell us...if you got this letter, would you have paid attention to it?

Jez said...

Okay. Here's mine:

And I'm pretty sure by the age of 13, I would have followed the instructions pretty well. Except probably not about washing my face and letting the game come to me.