Day 8 and doing great!
Day eight wants us to write a letter to ourselves in 10 years. Here’s the thing (do I say that too much? i’m thinking yes), when I was having a go at blogging the last time, I wrote a whole post about how in my senior year of high school we were given an assignment to write a letter to yourself 4 years into the future. The teacher said she would send it to us in four years when we should be getting ready to graduate college. It turns out she sent it eight years later, or mine got lost for an extra four years. Anyway, I blogged about getting the letter and what it said so I’m taking the easy way out and am just going to post that here. It’s good, I promise.
This month marks the eighth anniversary of my high school graduation*. Hoooly shit. It feels like yesterday that I swiped my ID card and stepped through the metal detectors for the first time. You mean your high school didn’t have metal detectors? Well, this is Brooklyn, we go hard. All stereotypes aside and with hindsight being what it is, I loved high school. Actually, love might be too strong of a word. I liked high school as a friend. A good friend with no benefits. And really, I probably wouldn’t go back unless you paid me a shit ton of money and promised that everyone I went with came back too. I don’t know if I could survive with the kids today.
I had a lot of memorable experiences in high school. That’s where I was when 9/11 happened. Technically, that’s where I was headed. We heard the news in the car and by the time I got to my first class the buildings had started to fall. I went to countless football games to check out – I mean cheer on the team. In my freshman year the junior varsity team was 18-0. By senior year the boys had moved up to varsity and they were 0-18. It’s like Freddie Mercury wrote “We are the Champions” just for James Madison High School. I made friends, lost them and made new ones all in one class period. I was in the writing group of the yearbook committee. I wrote one poem that the leader of the group hated. He made me redo it to make it “more adult”. When the yearbook came out I couldn’t wait to see my work in print. It turns out that one didn’t go over too well either since someone changed the whole thing without my permission.
Academically, I was average. My SATs were nothing to write home about. Honestly, I wouldn’t even bother mentioning them in a P.S. at the bottom of the page. I did very well in English. I read The Great Gatsby for the first time and hated it (GASP!). Little did I know, I would read it two more times in college and learn to love it. I made it to the highest level in Spanish but I still can’t speak a lick of it. Math was not my strong subject; it never was. That being said, tell me how I received a higher grade on my math regent than my English regent. Mr. Cohen, that’s how. The man was nuts. He had a big black pompadour, thick 70’s porn star mustache, and wore acid washed denim jeans with a jacket to match. HOT. MESS. He used to sashay around the classroom telling us that if we did well on the regent he would get a raise and he needed a raise to redo his basement in his house on Staten Island. He also needed a raise because his son, Michael was going to college soon and he needed to pay for it. Truth be told, I couldn’t imagine him living on Staten Island or being a father but hey, whatever you say. He used to break up our little “coffee clatches” and wouldn’t allow us to speak for the rest of the class. Obviously he didn’t realize that we had important issues to discuss, like could you believe that what’s her name hooked up with what’s her face’s boyfriend at so and so’s Sweet 16? Tramp. But this post isn’t about Mr. Cohen or his pompadour (God, I wish I had pictures). It isn’t about my math class either. It’s about economics and the surprise I would get so many years later.
I took economics in my second semester senior year. It was probably an elective because I can’t think of a time in my life where economics interested me enough to take a class on it. Which totally sucks because in college not only did I have to take an economics class, I had to pay for it. My teacher was Ms. Rago. She was young; probably not much older than I am now. She made the class fun. On the last day of school, yes I actually went in on the last day and yes I really went to class, she told us that instead of doing work we were going to write letters to our future selves. She gave us a sheet that looked like it came from an Ad-Libs book and told us to fill it in. She also handed out envelopes and told us to address them to ourselves. When we were all done with our sheets, letters and envelopes she collected them and told us to forget about them. We were told to expect something in the mail around the time we would graduate college.
I left the class that day hoping that she would send it early. I don’t know why. I guess in a weird way I wanted to know that something was coming for me. I also knew that even though I was instructed to, I wouldn’t be able to forget about it. A year passed, two years, five years and no letter. I figured she forgot about it, but every June I would wait expectantly by the mailbox.
The letter came today. I couldn’t believe when I saw it sitting on the table this afternoon. I asked my mom if it was part of today’s mail. She said yes and wanted to know what it is. “A letter from 17-year-old me” is what I told her. I explained the exercise while I carefully opened the envelope. I read my answers to the worksheet out loud to my mom and after a few questions, I couldn’t hold back the tears.
Mom: Why are you crying?
Me: I have no idea!
The girl I was re-introduced to knew what she wanted. She knew that she needed to go to college, get a job and work hard to be somebody in this world. She knew who she was and liked herself. She was afraid of the war but was optimistic about the future. She wanted to work in the field of communications and make $1,000,000 a week. All she wanted in the future was to be happy and to be doing things she loved. She was articulate and had damn good hand writing for a 17-year-old lefty. I was proud of that girl. I forgot she existed for a while.
I’m at a point in my life where I feel like an adult, yet like the teenager who sent me a letter today. Sometimes I feel like I let that girl down and that I have a lot of work to do to gain her respect back. I know I’ll get there; hopefully sooner rather than later. I think that girl gave me the shot of hope I desperately needed. I was afraid that when I read the letter it would say something stupid and trivial like, “Are you married yet? I hope he’s cute” or “Did you ever get the H3 Hummer? It looks great in yellow.” I am so happy and proud to say that not once was a yellow Hummer mentioned. I am mad at my  year old self for having such low expectations of my 17-year-old self. Shame on me.
I grew up a lot in the eight years that have passed since graduation. Sometimes it feels like nothing has changed, but when I look around everything is different. I went to college and did well. I might have the same job as I did back then, but I know that will change – eventually. I’ve had great experiences, including seeing Graceland and meeting Tom Hardy. Thankfully my choice of car has changed; I’d kill for a BMW.
I hope that in another eight years I’ll be able to look at this post and smile; maybe even shed a tear. I’ll look at my cute husband and say “Warm up the Hummer honey. Let’s go buy an island with my $1,000,000 weekly salary.”
*This was written in June, two years ago. I graduated high school 10 years ago as of June 2015. yikes.