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?
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 real...erm...winners 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 and...you'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.