I tried to write a letter to 17 year-old me a few weeks ago, but failed because of the time-space continuum. Yes, I let an idea of science fiction stop me from doing a creative writing project. I wouldn’t want my path to be any different because then who knows where I would have wound up. The butterfly effect and all that.
What if we hadn’t climbed out a window with a thermos of coffee to sit by the romantic glow of the retaining pond’s fountain light. Trust me, when you are taking coffee with you and not booze, not much happens, except you tell your boyfriend “I… I… love you.” Such drama, thanks being 15.
What if I hadn’t run back to Shilling Hall, stopped the hall director by the bathroom after my interview and told her… what did I tell her? Whatever it was, I wound up being an RA.
What if I hadn’t agreed to start playing the oboe when the Band Director told my sister that one of us needed to switch to basoon and the other to oboe. “You’re chances of getting a music scholarship will increase if you play a double-reed instrument.” Yeah and eventually I got my tongue pierced to get out of playing it, because I was too afraid to say no to the professor.
I don’t know all those little moments add up and equal me at nearly-31. I’m pretty fond of me at nearly-31. I have finally stayed at a company for longer than two years, I have a religious community that is meaningful, I have offline and online friends that are fantastic, good relationships with my family and hell, I even own my own place.
Looking at the Gapersblock list, it looks like their are three big things people regret. The first is not studying abroad. Well, I can’t say that’s on my list. I went abroad for the first time in 1997, then spent a semester in Argentina and five months working in London. I guess if you are someone who did that, the common regret is only spending a semester. Which I do regret, but not in a nagging way. I’d have had a lot more boy drama and not graduated on time, blah blah blah.
The second is taking up smoking. I also never did that. Sure there was some time Sophomore year when we took up smoking cigars. Yes, when the women of the BWA RA staff would lean on the railing and smoke Swisher’s Sweets. Cause we were classy in our flannel shirts and jeans. Oy. I also tried again in Colorado, but have you ever seen me smoke? Some people weren’t made to hold cigarettes and I’m one of them. I look silly.
The third is who you lose your virginity to. I think I can go on record and say I don’t regret sleeping with him, either. Granted it was many years past 15 that I lost my virginity, so perhaps the added age kept it from being a teenage regret… or even a college regret. I don’t even regret not being in love, I was somewhat cynical and past the waiting for a knight on a white horse guy. I don’t think I settled, but time will tell if I ever regret it. Probably not.
The other two things people tell 15 year-old selves are to keep writing, well to keep making art, and to get to Chicago sooner. Okay, I’ll give myself that advice too. Why not?