A Letter to 27-Year-Old Me, 20 Years From Now
You don’t know how to get rid of the fruit flies. You put the saran wrap over a cup of apple cider vinegar and poked holes in it, just like your sister said, but so far the death count is a measly three. You should really fold that pile of clothes that you finally pulled out of the dryer after wrinkling nicely for three days. There is so much dust around the baseboards that you keep telling yourself you’ll get around to, but you’d rather stare at it. Your jewelry “collection” is currently a giant knot of metal, so you just don’t wear any of it, though you know that “accessories make an outfit”, or something. You don’t know if you can afford the $9 dollar bag of gogi berries you’re eating, but somehow you’ve convinced yourself they negate the cigarette you smoked on the weekend (HA). You need to get a job, but you’re not sure which one. You feel like you can be many different things, so you get a little frozen in your tracks. You feel like you fly by the seat of your pants and maybe you’re getting a little bit old for that. You should be writing. Same. Old. Story. You are boring yourself.
You and your boyfriend got in a fight last night at a movie ironically titled This is The End, though it didn’t turn out that way. He is in the middle of a complicated separation and you have abandonment issues. You have moved on from dating actors to men in the middle of separations. You should really think about that. You are very demanding of other people, but only because you do the same to yourself. Perhaps unrealistically so. You think he is being a jerk, but that knot in your stomach as you stormed off like a tempestuous two year old makes you think that maybe you are acting like one too. You looked back to see if he followed you before you got on the subway, but he didn’t. That’s only for movies starring Kate Hudson.
No matter how much you clean the apartment, it still looks unkempt, not unlike your hair. You’re not sure why you just cut off all your hair. Maybe it’s because the hairdresser told you that the hair you were holding onto was six years of life, which is exactly how long it has been since your mother died. It’s 2:49pm on a Tuesday. Your apartment’s walls are getting a little too close but you don’t know what better to do than this. You walked down the street this morning in white linen shorts and yellow plastic rain boots. Judging by people’s looks, you should have rethought the rain boots. The forecast said rain, but it never quite came. You think you should probably paint your nails or learn how to blow dry your hair or watch a classic movie that you (embarrassingly) haven’t seen, like Badlands or Goodfellas. You don’t always feel like watching what is perceived to be “necessary viewing” and as a “creative type” this troubles you and makes you question your taste.
You wonder what kind of career could be made out of moping. You think of, and scroll through, all the people with all the things you think you want and feel an infinite gap between them and you. You worry sometimes that there is absolutely nothing in your head, even though you and I know that couldn’t be farther form the truth. Your boyfriend hasn’t called and you worry he is dead somewhere, but he is not. When you love someone you want to possess all of them the way you want, when you want it. You worry that you are one of those “melancholy” people and that it will overtake you or worse so, morph into a career of badly written movies of the week that play on cable at 2:49pm on a Tuesday.
I know you are scared when you fall in love with people because there is always a risk that they will fall away, like many dear ones who have gone before. But this is all you know and all you can to do. Try to be kinder to your boyfriend and more empathetic without sacrificing your own needs. If this does not work, then you must move on. You will find out, but I suggest sternly that you think about flinging yourself upon a man (or vice versa) before you know what you’re falling into. There is only one of you, so please be kind. The world will break your heart as much as you let it – safeguard it wisely. You can chose to be many different types of people and be with many types of people, but it must start with you. Do you like yourself? You are the common denominator. The days don’t get easier, but you get stronger and smarter. You will worry less about failing as several failures, and successes, will go behind you. You are still standing, even in your yellow boots on a hot, humid, rain free day. The voice in the back of your head that says “I’m not sure If I can…” will get quieter, though it will come to visit unannounced. But you will know that it’s just the devil named Fear and the only way to get him out of the house is to stare into his beady red eyes. You’ve become comfortable acquaintances by now.
I’ve never figured out the fruit flies, but you’d feel a little more in control of things if you folded your laundry and cleaned your room. Your hair is fine, it’s just puffy because of the humidity. Take off the rain boots, put on a nice summer dress and get that glass of wine with your friend tonight. Just don’t have five – as you can be prone to do. She always knows what to say. Open your bank account and face what you’re dealing with and plan accordingly. Clear off the papers on your desk and make a clear space to write. You don’t know what shape each word will take into meaning or story, but it will be something, and it will be yours.
People will continue to enter and leave. This is painful, but this is the way it is. Transform the beauty inherent in the collision of two people meeting into something meaningful, no matter how painful the crash is. When you were 26, on the five year anniversary of your mother’s death, you tattooed Samuel Beckett’s words to your forearm – I can’t go on, I’ll go on. You liked the absurdity of the line, that it all means everything and nothing, but don’t let that diminish the meaning in the process. Maybe it’s time to lessen the importance you assign to some things, like your hair, and more meaning to what you brush off to be nothing, like the way you talk yourself out of things that you are capable of doing.
The men, the fruit flies, the haircuts, the failures, the successes, the laundry, the love, the sadness, the writing, the not writing, the hangovers, the uncontrollable giggles you get stricken by at the most inopportune times will all fade away and you will be left with this – I am here. I am enough. But I don’t have to tell you what you already know.
Now go make yourself a cup of tea and rewrite the story you’ve been telling yourself.