A friend of mine posted a link about a woman receiving a letter from herself, that she had written for a school project 10 years before. (You can read that story here.)
This reminded me about a time capsule I made for myself when I graduated high school.
My mother had bought me this “cheesy” time capsule tin as a graduation gift. I accepted it with all of a teenagers “I don’t need this, but thanks” kind of grace. It came with a book that you had to fill in, and a slew of things you were supposed to put in it. It took me a month to comply. I had to write myself a letter, put in pictures and memories from my graduation year, etc.
Mind you, I was already living on “my own” with my fiance and a friend and her man. I had a job and was planning a wedding at the last-minute, as my fiance was leaving for basic training within a few weeks, and we didn’t want the hassle of doing all the paperwork after he was stationed who knew where. So once the “I do’s” were spoken, and he was off to Texas to become a military man, I finally found the time to fill this capsule.
I had no idea what to put in there. I had no clue what to write myself. I didn’t see the importance of this capsule. But I did it out of some strange obligation to complete this project given me. I filled out all of the pages, added all of the pictures, placed a vhs tape, cd and little reminders to myself of what my life was like in 1997 inside. I took a week to write myself a letter, feeling awkward and stilted in talking to my future self.
Once I placed all of this inside, I tapped the hell out of it, and watched it collect mental and physical dust for the next decade.
This tin went from New Mexico, to England, to New Mexico, to Virginia, and back to New Mexico again. It sat under beds, on shelves, in the back of closets, in storage units, and a garage. It saw me married and divorced twice. It saw me become a mother. It watched me go through jobs galore; waitress, car hop, Army, bar manager, trainer, store manager, cashier, admin assistant, and more. It watched me overcome abuse, miscarriages, a stillborn baby, being cheated on, go into debt, and so much more.
In that ten years it saw me change and adapt, without doing so itself.
I was managing a local bar when my ten-year high school reunion came along. The bar owner told me to go to the reunion, even changing the schedule to give me a busy bar night off. But I didn’t want to go. I tried explaining that to him. What did I have in common with “those people”?
Most of my school years saw me bullied, picked on, beaten up, ignored. I reinvented myself during my junior year, to the point of dropping out for 6 months, and coming back my senior year a different version of myself. Yes, I had friends, but only a handful that really knew me, and even those were guarded to a degree. I had acquaintances within every clique, but none that really knew me or hung out with me. And I hadn’t talked to pretty much any of them in the ten years since we graduated.
But still my boss gave me the night off, probably thinking that I would cave and attend. But I stayed home instead. I decided to do some deep cleaning to get through the extra time on my hands. While purging my closet of extra clothes, I found the time capsule. Oh fates, you have your ways.
I placed the capsule on my bed, trying to recall everything inside. I knew there was a video tape and cd, but of what, I couldn’t say. I tried recalling what all I said to myself, but couldn’t recall a line. Finally, I ripped the tape away, and pried open the lid. Looking into it, I smiled. The first thing in there was my corsage from my senior prom. (That’s a whole other blog.) I was in for an interesting ride.
I watched the VHS tape that had orchestra concerts and drama performances, cringing and smiling along when appropriate. I laughed that I had the single cd for Macarena inside. (No, I didn’t listen.) I smiled at the pictures of friends and I. Some that I still talked to daily, some that fell through the cracks of time and change. I read the prices for things then and compared them to now. I couldn’t believe it had been that long since that movie, song, book came out. I smiled at my hopes for what the future world would hold. I laughed at the stories of crazy shit my friends and I had done. I let tears slip down my cheeks over a love that had gone very wrong.
And then the letter. The envelope was light by hand, the letter it held was heavy by heart.
The hopes I had for myself. For where I would be, what I would be, what I had thought I would accomplish.
“Hi Me, I hope this finds us well. It’s so strange talking to myself like this. How are you? Who are you?…”
Four pages written, front and back. Talking about traveling the world, getting a degree, being madly in love, having a career, having money, having freedom from an already painful past. Hope for a woman to find her strength.
“Don’t let anyone hurt you like the others have, ever again. Stand up for yourself. Be confident in everything you do. BE HAPPY. Know that you are worth more than I think I am now. See the world. Laugh, please. Laugh a lot. Stop hurting yourself. Live. Want to live. Be the woman I dream about being, please.”
That girl and I were so similar and so different. I hated that I may have disappointed her, if she only saw the person I was, without knowing the history that got that version of me then, to the woman I had become at age 28. But she did know that history, because it was me.
It was an interesting experience, traveling from me then to the me “now”. I wasn’t disappointed with my choices. I was proud of how I handled the paths given to me in that decade between my selves. I liked who I am. But I knew I needed to follow my own advice, and desires, from the decade before, still.
I’m a work in progress.
I haven’t fulfilled all of my hopes for myself, yet. But I’m going to. That’s what this blog is about. That’s what my life is about. I’m finding the pathways to fulfilling my teenage hopes and dreams for myself. I can hear her cheering me on in my mind. Maybe I will write myself another letter, telling myself how proud I am of who I am now, and for all I have accomplished thus far, and to keep up the good work. I’m sure a 40-year-old+ me would love to learn about who she once was on her travels through time. Plus, I’d love to find out what cd I’d put in the capsule this time.
So, I may not have gone to my high school reunion, but I did have one with myself. And I think that did far more for me than the other ever could have. Besides, my twenty year reunion is only 4 years away. I may go and see where the world has taken us all, and how it has treated us all, then.