So today the thing that I did that terrified me was more literally terrifying than metaphorically terrifying – two words: mountain lions. I mean, I didn’t actually encounter a mountain lion. But I was doing various fun things with various friends and one of the things we did was drive up above Pocatello to get a better look at the stars, and we’re walking down a dark, tree-y, lovely road when Kory says, “By the way, be loud, there have been mountain lions up here.”
But anyway, I just found a thing on the internet which says, “Describe your current situation to your five-years-ago self.” And quite frankly, reading the example, not knowing anything about the person writing it, I was still quite moved.
Five years ago, it is one in the morning on March 8, 2009.
Hey there. It’s one in the morning and you’re probably asleep, so congratulations on the eventual mastery of your childhood insomnia. I’m being a bit of a creep, talking to you while you’re asleep, but I’m you and I’m allowed to do that because we’re making all the rules here. Anyway, this is a list of things that are going to change your life in the next five years.
-Going to Switzerland. I can’t remember if Mom and Dad have already told you about that or not. Sorry, spoilers. Anyway, no, you will never forget the coolness. It is a whole other world.
–Starting high school…no, not really. The first day of high school is not particularly memorable.
-Your first legitimate relationship. It will be sloppy and stupid and a little bit beautiful.
-The end of your first legitimate relationship. Your life is not going to end.
-Journalism. Enough said.
-Realizing that no, you do not want to be a teacher. Maybe it’s finally time to consider what your parents have been encouraging you to consider for however many years it’s been.
-The end of the end of your first legitimate relationship. JUST LET HIM FALL OUT OF YOUR LIFE ALREADY.
-Becoming an editor. No, you will not really be the same person after two years of editing a newspaper. It will be pretty worth it, though.
-A friendship of three years will sort of unravel and then rip apart. That’s fine. Don’t let it bother you. (It won’t.)
-Hannah. Stick close to Hannah. She is good for you.
-Same goes for Derek.
-The realization that most other people do not need to be as important.
-Jazz. Jazz will change your life.
-You’ll go to Sjölunden and it will give you new insight into how much you love/are good at linguistics, and how much you love Sweden. And five years later you will be in the middle of applying to work there. So yes, the scary moments when you are awake at 3 a.m. with a miserable head cold and when you don’t think you’re going to be a good credit student are going to also be worth it. (PS: you’ll pass the class with a 98.2.)
-Your senior year, you will be kind of crazy about boys who don’t necessarily deserve it. That’s okay – it’s just a thing you have to get out of your system. Don’t take it too seriously. Also, when you get dumped, you’re going to hurt a lot. Shakespeare may have said, “Feel the pain until it hurts no more.”
-You’re going to graduate, and everything you’ve done in the last four years from scraping your hand on a brick wall (the scar is currently reflecting the lamplight a little bit) to drinking raspberry tea and blaring Bob James as you drive is going to seem like it works out, like it fits, like the picture which is the last four years is exceptionally ordinary, normal and right. As though it just is what it is and has always been, even when you were afraid it wouldn’t work out. Whatever was that all about?
-Then you’re going to go to college, and watch too much Doctor Who and hang out with some people you don’t necessarily like and gradually pare it down to the ones you actually do like. A couple of boys will confess their violent love (not literally) for you, but you’ll kiss the one who tells you without flinching that “I do not love you.” You’ll learn to write papers and put on eyeliner (self-taught, I might add!) and to improvise on the piano and have existential crises, but you’ll forget how to talk to people and how to feel like you know anything worth saying. You’ll watch the Doctor Who 50th anniversary special with good people and appreciate your family infinitely more.
-Four days before the Christmas of your freshman year in college your grandfather will die in a city a thousand miles away and your mother will call you just before you start the dishes to let you know. And at his service you will tell a story that somehow, even in the storytelling family you have, got lost in the shuffle and is somehow known only to your parents and sisters, and the entire congregation will laugh and you will too, more out of high-running emotion than humor, and your voice will squeak into the microphone.
-And it will come down to tonight, where you will hang out with the people you do actually like. There will be Apples to Apples and ice cream and stargazing while walking down a lonely road above the city and someone will mention mountain lions.
And that is where we are.