Dear 32 year-old Frith – may I call you Ms. Frith?
I know it’s traditional to begin these time-travelling letters with a “now don’t freak out” caveat, but excuse me while I, your ten-years-younger self, angst (oh, and, this is a time-travelling letter. Don’t freak out). THIRTY-TWO IN JUST TEN YEARS?!?!?!?!?!!!! Man aliiiiiiive I’m getting elderly already! I know YOU won’t agree with me, but just WHEN did you get so sage and mature, good-lookin’? I turn my back and you got all grown-up... anyway, please receive this letter kindly, and laugh at your rambling younger self and her obsession with the self-conscious form.
Oh my gosh, I just realised I’m a hipster. I don’t think I can finish this letter ‘cause my evening just became fully booked for self-examination, repentance and contrition.
How is it possible to have wandered so far off-topic already?
Dear thirty-two-year-old self, you won the battle for recognition and attention with twelve-year-old self. It was a close-drawn thing but when I sat down and weighed all the options, it was you I wanted to talk to. Why? I’m not entirely sure. Probably the allure of the unknown. Twelve-year-old Frithlet was an earnest, gangly, sweet kid, IMHO, but you, Ms. Frith, are exponentially better. I don’t know you and I don’t know anything about you – and I’m puzzled how to write to you when you’re such a mystery. Treat this, then, as a fan letter. From an admiring acolyte to a distant, sunny figure.
Oh what a lot of tosh I write when I’m feeling self-consious.
But I do so admire you, Ms. Frith. You’ve got life worked out. You know where you’re going and how you’re getting there and you’re doing it, just watch you go! You probably have more qualifications than I do, too. You’re so much better and more together than me, I’m kind of jealous. You bitch.
No, don’t stop reading! I didn’t mean it. I was just excited by the moment.
I really hope you’ve got it all together, Ms. Frith. I wish you nothing but the best. None of these bullshit ‘growth opportunities” or “learning experiences”. I hope you live without mishap. That you never have to ring your parents crying from the other side of the world. I hope you don’t get discouraged by constant rejection emails. I hope no-one ever tells you you’re too irresponsible to have their children (I mean, wtf). I hope you’re no longer occasionally too poor for groceries (that must be more embarrassing at your age). I hope you’ve grown out of the virulent strain of super-procrastination that results in weeks-long, sickeningly ill, all-work-no-sleep benders. I hope you’re happy, in short.
On the other hand, I hope you have adventures. I hope you have challenges. I hope it is never too much to bear but always enough to be exciting, even though the balance never seems quite right in the crucial moment. I hope you’ve been to see Petra. If not, FFS GO!!! You’ve wanted to do that since, like, Year 11. Please go and do some more travelling, and don’t tell me the travel itch is leaving you alone now. You big baby. It NEVER leaves you alone, you’re just scared of it. Go and do something cool. Take the most trite piece of true advice I know and go do something for the first time, please. I worry about you getting too stuck in a rut, doing the same thing every day for years at a stretch. DON’T DO THAT TO ME. Can we shake it up a bit? Do something, ANYTHING, to make a change. To keep yourself fresh, you know.
And while we’re on the subject of change, aged 22 I think the world is in a crap-sack of trouble. It’s probably not much better ten years on. It’s probably a hell of a lot worse. I hope you’re doing something to mitigate the worse. Please do. Do it for me and my youthful idealism. I believe in you! Or don’t do it for me, do it for them – for everyone else in their milling turmoil of humanity. They need you. You need them. Help each other out. Don’t stop doing that. It reminds you who you are.
Do you still talk to him? God, I mean. I hope you knew instantly what I meant. Tell him I’m sorry for being such a bitch earlier. He’ll understand. Thank him for me?.. he’ll understand. He always does.
Maybe you have children. Maybe you have a permanent man-thing around. What strange thoughts. Can you write back to me and tell me if either endeavour is worth it? If the answer is no that’d save me and you a whole lot of trouble and effort. We’ll worry about the time-space continuum later. And oh, I hope you've followed the family’s two pieces of relationship advice religiously.
I’m not going to ask you about your job because I’m a scaredy-cat and I don’t have a real one and I don’t want to think about that. I hope, whatever it is, you love it, and it pays the bills. Those two things count.
Sorry I didn’t tell you anything about myself. That’s just detail. You’ll remember. The things that ended up mattering will stand out like lines in the sand. Life lies ahead, Ms. Frith, behind and ahead.
So I guess it’s TIME - time to commit this letter to super-duper magical time-travel – one day at a time, year after year, sitting in a file, moved by USB (what's a USB? you ask...) from computer to computer. Eventually you’ll be thirty-two and maybe you’ll remember to read this and you’ll have a laugh and maybe get a bit wistful. Maybe. Maybe it’s like writing a letter to Santa Claus, holding it in the flames and watching my words pouring up the chimney into the night to get lost in the constant stream of words that make up our lives.
Our life! Hope it’s good for you. It was good for me.*
With very best wishes,
Frith Driver-Burgess (still your name?) (aged 22) (really, really curious.)
*Yes, I did just end with an immature joke. I hope you laughed.