This past weekend I had a dream where I traveled in time back to some tropical island volcano in 1989 with Prince Charles and some random royal young person. In my half sleep, half awake ether at the end of the dream, I started to think about what I would tell my nine year old self since that's who I was in 1989.
This has been an… interesting year so far for you, hasn’t it? Got a bike for your birthday, fell off it a couple of days later, your appendix burst a week later, you spent 2 weeks in the hospital and another 2 weeks at home recovering and you got a sweet new daybed rom Jerome's out of the moms-guilt. You are going to start 5th grade at a new school with new people. That’s going to be an interesting one too, but you’re going to love Mr. Hutchinson. Needless to say, this is a pretty important time for you developmentally in every way. And because I couldn’t give a flying funt about the butterfly effect or space time disturbances or whatever, I’m going to tell you what’s what and give a little guidance on what to do about it to help, maybe, make your life rad because it’s not too rad now in 33-land.
1. Don’t stop riding your bike. I know the moms took it away after the appendectomy but that bike was not the cause of your hospital stay. Sometimes stuff just happens (to you, it happens a LOT) and this was just something that happened. Get your bike back or get another one, even if it’s a shrimpy BMX so you’re sitting back and your feet can hit the ground, and pedal your heart out because this is your freedom until you turn 16. Just make sure it has a basket of some kind on it. Talk to Muggy about it – she’ll totally back you up and she’ll probably even get one herself and ride around with you.
2. Speaking of Muggy: your Muggy and your Grandpa are the only two people around you now who know what’s what. The parents have no clue and, I’m sad to say, they never will so just nod and smile when they say something then go back to your room and do what you were going to do anyway. We both know that this episode with the appendix wasn’t the first time they let you down and it definitely won’t be the last. But your Muggy is your strongest, staunchest supporter. Give her lots of hugs – she needs them way more than you know. One day you’re going to be her strength in a way you won’t even realize when you’re doing it.
3. Meat and vegetables and fruit. You really like these, eat them as much as you can for meals. I know the parents don’t believe in vegetables or cooking or dining together (you have a pool table but not a kitchen or dining table, really?) but you need to start insisting on these. Apples: the green ones, not the red ones. Vegetables come in frozen bags, make them get them for you and learn how to make them. You know how to make mac ‘n’ cheese, cereal, peanut butter and jelly mixed together and sandwiches, learning how to get the frozen vegetables unfrozen won’t be that hard for you. Oh, and you love cabbage. Raw. With a little lemon. For real.
4. I know you read a lot already but read more. MORE. Anything you can get your hands on. Those Collier Encyclopedias? Read ‘em. Get on your bike and go to the library. It’s not more than a 20 minute bike ride away. There’s no such thing as a kid’s book and an adult book – they’re all for you to read. There’s going to be a time soon when the parents stuff you into a car every weekend for a “speed run” to Vegas or state line – bring 2 big books with you every time and bring a dictionary. Pocket your arcade money for #5 and read at the pool. The library is your friend.
5. Save your money. Christmas, birthdays (because we both already know that they have given up on trying to figure out what you would like and give you $20 instead) and the guilt/arcade money you get from the parents when they schlepp you to Vegas/State Line. The money you get for working for them: save it. More specifically, save 80% of it in a box or envelope or piggy bank or something else. When you have $500 saved, talk to Grandpa and ask him to buy you shares of stock in Apple Computers. You know, the IIe+ that you play your Oregon Trail and Number Munchers on? That company. Then save $1000 and take it to Grandpa and tell him $500 is for more shares and the other $500 is for a CD. And keep on doing that. Stop buying shares in the first quarter of 2003 and sell it all in September of 2012.
The other 20%, spend on music. Fuck what the parents say, you are allowed to love the crap out of Bruce Springsteen. When you and Muggy go to Sam Goody to get Heart and Queen tapes, get yourself ALL of the Bruce Springsteen tapes you can lay your hands on. Also, the Replacements. They are going to change your life. So will lots of other people who make music who are still brewing right now but will amaze you very soon.
6. Insist on swim camp. Insist so much that they don’t send you to Alabama that they have no choice but to cave in to your demand – tantrums yo, they’ll work. Make them send you to swim camp. Because, just like bicycling, you need to keep swimming. And you need community. Badly.
7. You need to make your own structure – your own life structure on a daily basis, a loose routine. You need to guide yourself because the parents aren’t going to do it for you. Don’t wait for them to support something, anything (even college), you want to do because they won’t. They won’t deter you but they definitely aren’t going to help you. They are ambivalent (dictionary) and unaware. They don’t have plans or ideas for you or what you can do in this world, you have to come up with them on your own. And then get on your bike and do them. You don’t need stuff, you need experiences which the parents don’t understand so they don’t know what to do with you. So go out on your bike and experience on your own. They won’t notice. Trust me.
8. Things come easily to you and you let this make you lazy (mainly because you need structure) – only superficially curious. Find something, anything, to dive deeper into. Know that you are going to majorly suck at it at first but you’ll get better. A lot better. Computer programming (because you’re good with number patterns), history, science, extra-curricular writing, machine/car repair (because you like working with your hands and you’d be amazing at it), karate/martial arts (because a ninja you would be MIND BLOWINGLY AWESOME), dancing, knitting, anything. But you have to find it and make the decision because no one is going to guide you to it. And you have to persist through the beginner “I’m horrible at this” phase. No matter what it is, this will be one of the best things you could ever do for yourself. **Note: I place my vote for ninja now because that would be uber-rad.**
9. Make this boy your penpal: B.T.C. Cumberbatch. He’s just now starting at Harrow School in England. The address there is 5 High St, Harrow on the Hill, Middlesex HA1 3HP, United Kingdom. Write to him. Anything and everything. Stories, happenings, feelings, just keep writing. This achieves two things: 1. you’re consistently writing. Don’t ever let anyone – teachers or otherwise – tell you that the way you write is wrong because it’s not, it’s YOUR way of writing. 2. That boy is amazing now and will be even more so later, it’ll be totally worth it. Let yourself expand with it. Maybe you don’t always send letters, maybe make it drawings or paintings or collages or something.
10. There are quite a few people in your life who are around your age who are unnecessarily cruel. Jessica, Jennifer, Kellie Scott, etc. Fuck them all. Don’t listen or take to heart one word that they say to you because everything that comes out of their mouths is spiteful drivel and it has absolutely nothing to do with you. All three of them end up pregnant and on drugs by 18. For real. And, let’s be honest here, in a year or two, you’ll be coming up on a time in your life where 99% of the people your age who are around you are just bitches. Boys, girls, teachers, idiots all of them. There are a select few individuals who aren’t assholes but the rest are and it’s because there’s stuff going on inside and outside of their bodies that they just don’t understand so a lot of them get angry or hateful or controlling over something or someone outside of them to help them rationalize what’s going on inside of them. The biggest chunk of this period will be about 6-8 years, but there are some people who hold onto it for their whole lives. Remember this: anything that anyone ever says about you that’s negative is not about you at all, it’s about themselves. Because you are amazing and smart and beautiful and you grow up to have really awesome boobies. But this is the reason for a majority of my suggestions: bicycling to other places, swimming, reading, penpal, karate (hopefully?) will all be things that you can find solace in when these people get you down. They’ll be distractions for you, they’ll be outlets, they’ll be what gets you through.
Finally, not that your saying anything will be able to help this, but if you can, find a way to make it so the pops doesn’t quit the Navy. The reason he quits is noble but dumb in the long run because he loses his whole sense of self and ends up going back in 11 years anyway. He starts to resent everything surrounding the decision because he doesn’t really know how to fully exist without the structure that the Navy gave him.
Final instructions: read this letter every day for the first year. Read it every month for the following 6 years. Read it yearly and otherwise as desired or required after that. Remember that no one is going to do it (whatever it may be) for you, so go and get it or do it yourself. Also, don’t get that perm when you’re 13 – that’s bad juju yo.
Kisses! The 33 year old you.