I was never very good with time capsules. I tried to make one when I was in the ninth grade. I forgot about it and then opened it as soon as I found it while cleaning out my desk. I opened it two years early. I can't remember what happened. I'm not sure why I decided to try again in the spring of 2003. I was two months away from the end of high school. Is there any other time when a person may want to desperately know what the future holds?
One May night, I sat on my bed and wrote myself a letter in pencil on a sheet of looseleaf paper. I folded it five times, sealed it with a paperclip and tucked it away in a little glass box I'd received as a gift when I was 10. It sat there for four years, and I would occasionally open the box to put something else in (or take something else out) and see it. It was strange to think about this letter, not knowing what was in it and wondering what it would be like to be 21, finished university and finally opening it again.
I read it this morning. It was terribly anti-climactic. When you write yourself a letter and postmark it for four years in the future, you're not taking into account what can change in four years, no. I was 17 when I wrote it. I guess I thought it wouldn't be that obvious.
But man, is it ever that obvious.
May 3, 2003
Dear me ("Dear me" sounds kinda clichéd),
You have two months left of high school. You'll be going to university in a few months. Wait -- I'll be going to university in a few months. You -- by the time you read this -- will (hopefully) have a BA in Arts and Contemporary Studies. *snicker*
I have a really huge crush on name withheld. Remember name withheld? I damn well hope I remember name withheld when I read this because name withheld is daaamn fine. Whatever happened between you and him, if anything? Did we ever talk any more? Did he run off and get married? Did you ever get to have hot, passionate sex on the beach with him? (Doubt it!)
Speaking of which, are you still a virgin? (My guess is probably. I was always a prude.)
Did you ever get over name withheld? Name withheld? Name withheld? Did you ever get better at Flash?
Do you still live at home? Have a boyfriend? Ever have a boyfriend? Felt any more urges to enter a convent?
If you've given up on journalism, I will hunt you down from the past and hurt you.
Do you still talk to (a list of eight friends).
Are you still afraid of name withheld? *snicker*
Did you ever end up telling anyone about that mad crush
you had I still unfortunately have on name withheld? Is name withheld still a prick? Have you lost touch with name withheld? (Did I ever really have touch with name withheld?)
Are you happy? Because I am. Ha. "I'm happy, hope you're happy too. Still listen to Bowie? Hear from name withheld? Is she still a skank?
Most importantly, are you still a geek?
I hope so.
With much love, respect, and hope,
(Does your signature still look like that?)
At first, I was mortified. I thought I'd done something incredibly profound at 17, then finally re-read it to find it was mostly about boys. Of course, the sixth paragraph from the beginning hit me like a 16-tonne weight: "If you've given up on journalism, I will hunt you down from the past and hurt you."
All I ever wanted to do was be a journalist. When I wrote this letter I was waiting to hear whether I'd gotten into journalism school, one of the most prestigious in the country. I was certain I wasn't going to get in. I got in three weeks after writing the letter. During my time as a journalism student I realized that I was not cut out for life as a reporter. It wasn't my scene. It involved being someone I wasn't. And all of this killed me because I love to write and read and just be immersed in language and text.
No, I cannot go out there and ask the hard questions. It occurred to me last night that I ought to remember two things: 1. I like to copy edit. 2. Copy editing is still journalism. It is my journalism. And I shant run from it any longer.
A huge newspaper offers a year-long copy editing internship for recent journalism graduates under 30. I started putting my application package together last night. Six months ago, I would have been upset at myself for doing this. Now I'm just happy.
I suppose all there's left to do is write back.
April 25, 2007
Dear me ("Dear me" is still kind of clichéd, isn't it?),
God, kid, I don't know where to even start. First of all, I did not just receive a BA in Arts and Contemporary Studies. I've finished coursework for a bachelor of journalism, which I know is what you really wanted. You were just shy and awkward and sure you weren't going to get in. But you got in, and now we're done. We did it, kid. You should be very proud.
You asked about name withheld. I'm not really surprised to see that you started your letter with him. He was a huge part of your life even though he didn't know it. To the best of my knowledge he is still unmarried, but over time you came to accept that he is more of an older brother-type figure to you than anything else. I still love him, though, but in a very sibling-esque kind of way. There was no hot, passionate sex on the beach. I'm so sorry.
You cannot possibly expect me to answer your next question on a public forum such as Everything2. Yes, I'm still a happy noder. You were still at Level 1 when you wrote that letter. I'm at Level 5 now and have made some wonderful friends through the site.
You also asked about three guys on whom you had a series of crushes back in high school. Yes, you got over them all. One of them is married now. You get along fine with another, and the less said about the third the better.
Yes, I still live at home. I've just finished an undergraduate degree, dude. I'm kind of broke. I've been job hunting and, if all goes to plan, will have my own place downtown by the fall.
Yes, I have a boyfriend. He's wonderful and I love him very much. You'd like him too. He's my/our first boyfriend. I'd tell you more about him but I don't want to spoil things for you. Getting to know him was only part of the adventure, but it was a good part. I haven't felt any urges to enter a convent, either. No, really.
The next part of your letter is more timely than you could ever possibly have imagined. Because it is so important, I'm going to address the other things you mentioned first.
I still have some degree of contact with the eight friends about whom you inquired (see? I still avoid ending sentences with prepositions whenever possible). I don't talk to everyone regularly, but we still get together every once in a while and certainly haven't forgotten about each other. I did make other friends in university as well, especially at the campus paper.
I am less afraid of the individual you inquired about next than I was when you wrote the letter. Strangely, he did seem to turn up at Ryerson a few times, which did not do much to allay long-held fears that he'd been stalking me/you/us back in high school. Which he almost certainly was. Thankfully, he went to a different university. I did run into him on the bus once and then had to sit next to him. Awkward.
I'd forgotten all about that ill-placed crush on that other individual until you reminded me. Ew.
I am happy. I think it's a different kind of happy than you were when you wrote to me, but that's because I'm a different person on all sorts of levels. That doesn't mean that I'm better than you, no, just different. I want to live a life free of regrets. But a lot of things haven't changed at all. Yes, I still listen to David Bowie. I actually got to see him in concert in April of 2004. It was awesome, even though he didn't do Life on Mars?. I have, in fact, also heard from the individual you inquired about after referring to David Bowie. It wasn't until I read your letter that I remembered that she does bear an uncanny resemblance to him. As for your second question about her, the answer is a very loud yes.
Yes, I am still a geek. That was never going to change and you need not have worried about it. I am very comfortable in my own skin. I have you to thank for that. If you didn't have it together back then, I don't know what I'd be like now. I just didn't remember being so boy crazy, but meh. There were worse things to be, I suppose.
My signature does still look like that, even four years later. I don't, though. I mean, I still look the same. I've just lost 20 pounds. You didn't ask about that, but I thought you'd like to know.
Now, on to what I'm sure you thought was an innocent statement when you wrote it four years ago. You'd probably be very upset to hear that much of the past year was spent planning to flee journalism. In fact, you'd probably be looking for ways to build a time machine so as to attack me with a machete. I can explain, kid, trust me. It wasn't what you thought it would be. You're a shy, awkward, introverted person, aren't you? It's hard to get out there and ask people hard, personal, even contentious questions. Yes, I did it -- but I wanted the degree. I wanted to finish and get a normal job. I was so convinced of this that I completely forgot that journalism is more than just reporting.
I'm applying for a copy editing internship. Does that sound boring? It's not. It's everything I love to do.
Yeah, I'm happy. I'm happy. I'm happy.
We did it, kid. We have our whole life ahead of us. Let's rock.
Thanks for writing. It made my day.
Maybe it wasn't so anti-climactic after all.