I was going through my old 'scrapbook' this evening. I loved the idea of scrapbooking as a child, and I made one by scotch-taping every letter (and envelope) I received onto pages of computer paper and putting them in a trapper keeper. Very linear, very left-brained. My stamp collection is in there too, consisting of the stamps that I cut out of every piece of postage that entered our house, scotch-taped onto sheets of computer paper. I didn't really get the concept of stamp collecting, either, but I was very pleased with it.
I really did save every letter and card I was sent, and anything else flat or nearly flat was taped in there, too, including a piece of the grungy old cardboard box that our Christmas tree was kept in before Mom finally made Dad throw it away and buy a plastic tub instead. I was very resistant to any kind of change.
As I reached the last few pages, I found an envelope addressed to myself from myself, with a teddy bear sticker with 'stamp edges' in the right hand corner, and I was surprised to find that it had a letter sealed inside. It's written in aquamarine colored ink on a page torn out of a spiral notebook in my wobbly handwriting, dated September 17, 2000. I would have been 13, in eighth grade. Spelling and punctuation are preserved.
Dear Me, (only 10 years older)
Hi! You remember me, don't you? Somewhat pudgy girl, dark shoulder length hair, hazel eyes, 5'4, glasses?
Is Miriska still around? Do you still argue with her?
What was college like? Do you remember any Spanish? Remember Esther, and Adventureland?
What's your husband like? Is he everything I imagined he'd be? How many kids so far?
Do you still talk to yourself? Chew on things? Where is Mom and Dad? Phillip and Nathan?
Do you remember how you used to wonder what Leukemia would be like? Please tell me you never got it!
Are you still forgetfull?
What sort of job do you have? Do you still have that rare sense of humor? Do you still sing? If you listen hard enough can you still hear people singing the song stuck in your head long after the radio is turned off?
The potter's class you planned on taking, how did it turn out?
Do all your daughters (Allana, Miriska, etc.) have long beutifull hair in gorgeous braids and twists? Or is it kept short, because they can't take the pain of the brush?
Are your ears peirced? Do you still suffer through every period? Please tell me you found an alternative to those terrible diapers you had to wear during the night.
What do you look like? Mom? Or a gorgeus super model?
Did you ever get the twins you hoped for? What do your children look like?
Have you taken a plane ride yet?
I have to go now. Dreaded Math Homework awaits.
P.S. What happened to Melanie
I think I deserve some answers, don't you?
Dear Me, (12 years ago)
Hello! I do remember you, sweetheart. I remember you very well. I see the unasked questions in your description, too. I'm still 'pudgy,' quite a bit more so, perhaps, but I have some lovely curves, fantastic cleavage, and very sexy legs. Can you believe I actually use those words now without feeling the slightest bit racy? You're right - I still feel embarrassed every time I say them. My hair is shoulder-length again - I let it grow long enough to sit on, and then I got bored of it (yes, I really did), and I cut it several times. I'm letting it grow out again, though. I never dyed it fully, but I tried putting some red in it once. It didn't work - as usual you could only see a red cast when I was in direct sunlight. I finished out at 5'6 and 1/2". I remember how badly you wanted to be 6' tall, but believe me when I say it wouldn't have been worth it. I wore contacts all through high school and college, but right now I can't afford them, so I'm back to glasses. They're just geeky enough, and I honestly think I look a little better in them in most days than I look without them.
Miriska is gone; shall we say retired instead? I've finally outgrown my imaginary friends, but if it's any consolation, they hung on almost all the way through college.
College was unexpected. I wasn't ready to go, and I didn't take full advantage of my time there. I still have no idea what I want to be when I grow up. I remember a fair amount of Spanish, and I practice it a little at work, but I haven't really applied it enough to maintain full retention of everything I learned. I took Japanese and Sign Language in college instead of continuing with Spanish, so that didn't help. I do remember Esther and Adventureland, and here's a happy surprise for you - it wasn't the only time you'd ever get to go to Adventureland! You go again with your youth group, and this time you get to go on the really scary rollercoasters, and you entirely avoid the Tornado.
My husband's name is Ryan, and Amber was right when she said that he'd be entirely unexpected. He's BLOND, and wears glasses. She was wrong about the freckles, though. He has lots of moles, which is close. He's just under 6' tall, but it's enough. He isn't really the dark, brooding, vaguely dangerous anti-hero you were expecting, and no, he isn't Scott Swenson. He can dance, and he's outgoing, and he's just a little bit preppy. I'm not joking one bit. He's absurdly romantic and sweet, and sometimes I just shake my head and wonder how this happened. We've had two children so far, but only one is alive. I know it's hard to imagine, but think of Kevin, and the infant mortality rates of Victorian and pioneer children, and it will make a little more sense. It happens. It was like Kevin.
I don't talk to myself as much, but I desperately want to most days. I've reached a point in my life where I'm a little less comfortable convincing people that I'm crazy, but I miss it. I don't chew pens into paintbrushes anymore, and I'm a little too germ-conscious to stick everything in my mouth, but it hasn't stopped me entirely.
Mom and Dad are still together and alive, and Nathan is living with them. They're in an apartment in Cedar Rapids. A lot has happened to Dad in the past four years, but I'm not going to tell you about it. Somehow it's even worse than losing our first baby. You know something about babies dying, but I can't tell you about Dad. You were always afraid that he'd die in an accident, but he didn't. He never had a single accident. He's still alive, he's still mentally alert, and he's happy, but a lot has changed.
Phillip joined the National Guard, but he's finished with that and now he's working construction in the carpenter's union. He's living in his own house in Cedar Rapids. He's not married yet, nor does he have a girlfriend, but he's pretty much the coolest person you know. Take a look at your younger brother right now, and imagine him as cool. Hard, isn't it?
Nathan is a world away from the Nathan you know now. He's still not normal, but he's more high-functioning than ever, and he has a personality and a voice. A James Earl Jones voice, oddly enough. He's into acting, and anime, and vampires.
Leukemia. Wow. Those Lurlene McDaniel books, right? No, I didn't get cancer in the last twelve years, and I pray to God I never do.
Still forgetful, yes, but I wish I could remember what prompted you to ask.
I'm working at Wal-Mart in customer service, and it isn't terrible. My sense of humor is still rare, and I sing whenever I can, though I'm aware now that I'm not very good. I haven't been able to hear the music in a long time, but I also haven't tried in a while, either.
I took ceramics in high school, and it was . . . disappointing. I didn't like the teacher, and once again, strangely enough, my best piece was ruined by that darn aboriginal art style they were so hell-bent on teaching us. I'm sorry, baby girl, but we have no eye for movement.
I don't have any daughters yet, only sons.
My ears are pierced now - you didn't have to wait too long. Ironically, I almost never wear earrings anymore. The last time I tried they itched like crazy and then the baby tried ripping them out.
I haven't had a period in over a year now, thanks to pregnancy and nursing. It did get more manageable over time. It's less of a bloodbath at night, so no more Depends, I promise. Single most embarrassing admission ever.
I look like myself. Not as pretty perhaps as when I was 22, but there you have it. I look as much like Mom as ever but no more than ever, and I can honestly say I haven't seen any supermodels that I want to look like, so that's okay.
No twins yet! Thank goodness, one was expensive enough. Gabriel David Hanson was a beautiful baby with dark wavy hair and perfect hands and feet and such a tragic little broken body. Silas Robert Hanson is absolutely adorable, and you'll love this - a redhead. Straight hair, unfortunately, but enormous eyes that range from turquoise to dark blue depending in the light, and the longest eyelashes ever. His eyebrows are just about invisible. He also has the fattest cheeks you could ever wish for on a baby (and you will).
No, I still have not been on an airplane yet.
It's been so much fun chatting with you. Good luck with the Dreaded Math Homework - you get to be pretty good at it.
PS: Melanie, strangely enough, became a bartender in Chicago. Possibly an old maid, and she posts pictures of herself in bikinis on the internet. I don't know. We haven't really talked in years. I still have all of her letters. I wonder if she has ours.