Monday, January 07, 2008

Conversations with my 13 Year Old Self

I saw where Beach Bum had written a letter to his 13 year old self and it rather intrigued me. A letter was just not working well for me so here's the conversation instead.

39: Hey kiddo, whatcha doing there?

13: Drawing.

39: Make sure you don't stop.

13: Well, I do have homework and chores ya know?

39: Yeah, I know. I mean when you're all grown up. Make sure you still draw or paint or write or do something creative.

13: Well, duh!

39: Yes, I know that seems painfully obvious now but there will come a time when you put it all aside because the people who call you 'a dreamer' say that as an insult. And then there is marriage and family and young children that all sort of take away a lot of time and you feel guilty about pursuing things like this. I'm just saying, don't feel guilty and don't let others make you feel silly and unproductive for having dreams and a need to create. You're going to put it all down for a while and be miserable until you figure out you need to pick something back up. Save yourself the miserable stage.

13: No problem because I am never going to be like THEM. They all just walk around looking dead all the time anyway, like they don't have a single bit of joy in life, like everything is pure drudgery.

39: Well, life happens and people don't wake up and suddenly decide to be joyless. It sneaks up on them slowly. Things will sneak up on you too.

13: Oh yeah? like what?

39: Well, these hips , thighs and belly for one thing. I mean look what a little slip of a thing you are now. I bet you never thought we'd get this wide did you?

13: (hunching over) I hate the curves I have now. I can't ever find jeans to fit. You know everyone wears 501s but they are so straight up and down and I'm not! And I hate that I got boobs early. The other girls hate you and the boys just want to feel you.

39: (hugging 13) It's ok. Everyone evens out in a few years. But let me warn you about that Wood Shop class you take in 2 years when you are the only girl. Don't walk down the hall to get wood without asking Steve R. to guard the entryway for you.

13: Steve? He hates me!

39: He doesn't hate you. He's just quiet, but he's also a gentleman, unlike a couple of the other guys in that class. In addition to getting Steve to cover your back don't be afraid to give a knee to the groin or the heel of your hand really hard to the nose. Ok?

13: Gees, sounds like a great time I'll have in that class.

39: You'll be ok. Just mind what I said.

13: So what other awful things do I have to look forward to?

39: Well, I'm not hear to tell you everything that happens in your life.

13: Well, what good are you then?

39: I just want to give you some helpful hints. Warn you of some things. Nudge you in the right direction.

13: Now you sound like my mother. Do me a favor and don't become her when you have kids, ok? And definitely don't become our dad! Gees!

39: (laughing) Well you know what she has always told us right?

13: (mocking) "Whatever I did right make sure you repeat it. Whatever I did wrong, do better."

39: That's it. You got it. And you know, she's right. That's the best piece of advice she's ever going to give you. There's a lot of wisdom in it.

13: It's a cop out.

39: No, hon. It would only be a cop out if she didn't try her hardest or if she didn't care. She's taken her own advice and done better than her folks. It's a bit of advice that opens the door to forgiving shortcomings and not being hobbled by them. You know she had it rough growing up.

13: Don't you even start in on my grandparents! She told me about it and I don't believe it! They have always been there for me. ALWAYS! Grandpop just died and I don't want to hear any nastiness about him.

39: I know, kiddo. I've been there. I remember? I know. Just believe me when I tell you you're going to wrap your head around the fact that they weren't necessarily there for her and she had to get past all that in order for YOU to have them be the wonderful grandparents they are. Lesser people would have walked away from them. Her bit of advice is what allowed for that and the sooner you can understand it the smoother things will be.

13: Well I'm DEFINITELY not going to make the mistakes she makes with her boyfriends.

39: (stifles guffaws) Oh, good gravy! On that you are sooooo wrong.

13: (sniffling) I know, because I will never HAVE a boyfriend. I'm not popular enough.

39: No, you'll have some boyfriends. Don't worry. You'll pick some too.

13: Ooooh, are they cute? When do I get my first real kiss?

39: (laughing) They're cute. A couple of them are complete losers though. Don't be swayed by a handsome face. Don't figure you can inspire paternal instinct by picking horrible fellows either. Have respect for yourself. The first real kiss is quite lovely since you're not counting that one at the wedding reception this summer when you got completely schnockered?

13: I never had beer before and the older kids kept giving it to me.

39: Learned quite a lesson that night didn't we?

13: (sheepishly) Yes.

39: Yep, stick to your guns, kiddo. Your gut said no. You even said no the first time they offered you the beer. Then you let them talk you into a yes and you kept sucking it down until you were legless. Make your own choices and stick to them.

13: (Turning back) Gees, now you REALLY sound like mom.

39: (Putting a hand on 13's shoulder) No, hon. You learned that lesson well as it applies to alcohol. I just want you to know that sticking to your guns has a much wider application. You're no fool. You have a conscience and you have a brain and you have a will. I'm just here to tell you to listen to your gut. You have some folks who try to tell you to be more logical than that and yes, apply your logic...but when you don't listen to your gut, when you try to silence that nagging voice...that's when you run into real trouble.

13: What kind of trouble?

39: Well, you know, I already told you I can't reveal all the details. But when you make a couple of major life decisions and there are bits and pieces that don't sit well with you, don't let anyone convince you to ignore those bits that nag at you. Pursue those details until you are satisfied with the answers. At least then if things still fall apart you're not going to drive yourself crazy with some of the 'what ifs.' One thing in particular though. You're going to go overseas. Don't tell your Pop-pop you're going away until after November. And make sure he is physically healthy when you speak to him.

13: Wow! I'm going overseas to live and I can't tell Pop-pop? Why?

39: You can tell him. Just wait until at least the following Spring, if he's still living. If he's not, then you just spared yourself and him a lot of pain'll either have an answer I won't ever get or you won't even know to ask the question. Either way is better. I know this is cryptic. I'm sorry. Just trust me on this, ok?

13: (leaning against 39 to hug her and speaking softly) Ok, I promise.

39: Thanks, I needed that.

13: I know

39: (laughing) Yes, I guess you did. So have I given you enough to work with?

13: Well, you said I run into real troubles. I'm a little scared. Can't you tell me what they are so I can avoid them completely?

39: Well, I warned you to listen to your gut. That will go a long way. But you can't avoid every bad thing in life, that's just not reality.

13: Like this conversation is even real, come on!

39: I think you know what I mean. We just have to go through some things for the sake of growth. Yes, there are some awful things coming up. But out of some of the worst come some very good things. You're going to have to endure some unpleasantness to get to the good things on the other side. I've given you general warnings, the things I learned that I wish I learned a little bit earlier.

13: Ok, so keep being creative, listen to my gut, stick to my guns, and mom isn't such a dummy after all, and that cryptic bit about Pop-pop.

39: Right, that's about it for now. Oh yeah, and always use a harness on ziplines.

13: What's a zipline? Never mind, I'll figure it out. Ok, so can I give you a word of advice?

39: (laughing) I was waiting for this.

13: Don't let them suck the joy out of you. Don't be some boring old lady whose most exciting adventure is reading 'Cat Fancy.' Don't forget what it's like to be a kid. Ok?

39: I'll do my best.


SignGurl said...

I felt like I was watching a movie when reading this.

*sigh* If only we could go back and tell those young ladies what to watch out for.

I think I'll try to head 13's advice and not become some boring old lady.

Have a great day!

Casdok said...

That was so lovely.

barman said...

That was the best. Oh so creative and such a wonderful thing. If only we could do that to help ourselves out. I know a little guidance for me when I was in my teens would have went a long way.

I love people who are creative. It is a shame people worked so hard to stifle your creativity. I hope as you have more time you can enjoy your creativity.

Now time for a good game of kick the can or maybe just ... TAG, your it!!!

I truly did love your conversation. You are amazing.

Mona said...

what a super swell post! It is indeed a great idea for a post! :)

both the 13 & the 39 Rock!

KFarmer said...

Beautiful one, what a well written and thoughtful conversation. This post is now one of my all time favorites (among many:)

G-Man said...


Michelle...This is right up there with some of your best stuff..

You are such a joy to know....G

Phain said...

Sounds like 13 was just as great to know as 39 is.

And the harness/zipline advice? Yeah, I had coffee shoot out of my nose on that one. Surprise laughter burns sometimes...

Bunny said...

You got a problem with Cat Fancy?


Beach Bum said...

Great post, when I wrote mine I remembered how unsure I was about many things back then and I am now trying to reassure my son that he too will make it through those same years. My daughter on the other hand might do me in.

Gledwood said...

do you have personal conversations in your head: ie yourself conversing with yourself in your own thoughts?

someone once told me that we all do this... then made me feel really weird because I don't!

closest thing I come to this is a ranting interior monologue but only when I'm planning something I wanna say anyway

rsvp ~ ta-raa!

Tommy said...

Snorting Diet-freaking-Coke at my keyboard. Now who's gonna pay for that? Not some boring old lady or a wise-beyond-her-years 13 year old. That's for sure. So, I'm dying to know ... did you take the zip line advice? Enquiring minds want to know! Love you ducky!

Moosekahl said...

Glad you remembered to tell her to wear her harness! Have a wonderful week!

david mcmahon said...

That is brilliant work, Michelle. I doff my hat to you.

All the very best for 2008. I got very ill on the last day of my overseas trip, but I'm finally back on my feet .....

And thank you for being the first person at my `virtual Christmas party'!!

Liquid said...

That is the most brilliant post I have read in a LONG time!
Great advice and honesty with your inner child.
I can't find mine.
Or maybe I never grew up.


I need to check on that one.

Thank you for this conversation piece!


Breazy said...

I sure wish we could go back and give our young selves advice on things we are wiser about now.

Lovely post Lime, I loved it!

Just to let you know...and there will be a post with a bit of explanation today or tomorrow..but I will be around more now, I am no longer working so I am back to being a work at home mom. I look forward to getting back in the groove of visiting my friends blogs each day.

Take care!

RennyBA said...

Good to hear that you can have such a great, open-minded and educating conversation - your a good Mom!

Hope your able to remember and learn from the kid too: the last one was great :-)

M said...

awesome post! i am so glad your 13 year old self didn't cop an attitude during this conversation. not one "whatever!" in the whole exchange...(i think, unless i missed something.)

snavy said...

i just loved that

Jocelyn said...

You have a knack for this kind of dialogue writing. The whole exchange is lovely--although there is something dark and bad in the wood shop class that day, eh?

Could you get your kids to read this? They might be amazed.

Bsoholic said...

Inspirational! (in a multiple personality disorder kinda way) :P

Just kidding of course, this is a great post. :D

Some singer dude said "If only we knew then what we know now" or something to the likes... How true eh!?

KaMotion said...

inspirational on so many levels

Jeni said...

Great post! Hindsight is always 20-20 -or so they say. (Don't know who "they" are as yet though.) But if only we could have a talk like that with ourselves at some ages that are really crucial to our further development, and know enough to listen to the words then too, wouldn't it be great though? I especially loved the bit about if I did right, repeat it, if I didn't do better. Good words to live by at any age!

Sudiegirl said...

I've done this too...god I was such an idiot at 13. I think I was dropped on my head.

What is a zipline?

Anonymous said...

Zipline.. *Snicker*

James Goodman-Horror Writer said...

That was way cool, Lime. I'm glad you thought to warn yourself about the zipline. :D

Corey~living and loving said...

WOW! I found your thru DAvid, and so glad I came over to read this. Very very good. well done.

Cooper said...

How awesome it would be to be able to have one conversation with your older self when stumbling through the teen years...
sounds like a good short story just wrote it...

Joeprah said...

Very cool to read. Above all else, be yourself--right? I especially love reading about all those issues specific to a girl growing up. Three of my own to look forward to it is cool to get this introspection (word?). Peace!

Suldog said...

Magnificent, Lime. So good, I'll no doubt be stealing the idea a few months down the road, when I can reasonably tell myself that I thought of it on my own and almost believe it :-)