Dear Kid I Used To Know,
If life is like one giant road trip, with a series of sightseeing tours along the way, you are seeing what 34 years and 364 days looks like, talking back at you, right now.
…And I need you to listen to me.
Tomorrow is a big day for you. It was supposed to be this giant arrival on a certain shore of new world launching and possibility. But from where I sit now, in the drivers seat, looking back at you through the rearview mirror, I gotta be real, and tell you: “I know you planned far ahead and worked really hard to prepare for every contingency, but we aren’t gonna make that boat, kid.”
…We’re still miles and miles behind on an interstate in the middle of two towns called “Somewhere” and “Somewhere Else.” But tomorrow when you wake up all excited in the back seat and ask, “Are we ‘There’ yet?!?!” I’m gonna have to say “no.” And you are really gonna be pissed about it.
…But that’s why I’m writing you this letter.
I need you to hear me out.
Back when you were…well, you.…when you picked this specific destination and this specific age, it was decades before GPS and traffic bing alerts on Smartphones. Back then it was just you, a paper map, and a fist full of highlighters, attacking it with gusto and specifying the route you wanted to take to get to this big destination.
..Like everything else in life…like the homework you always did immediately to get it out of the way like the overly long essays you wrote, like the month-long projects you did in a day…like all that prep and plotting would fill every contingency.
But then, you were just a damn kid.
…You didn’t even know how to drive, let alone realize the effects of pissing down rain on the roadways, or flat tires, rocks smashing your windshield, or rush hour. You had no way of knowing, with just your paper map, the fierce amount of road work, and detours taking you five miles out of your way, that would come up over and over and over again…not to mention accidents, (yours and other people’s) which would affect heavily your mileage per day average …until year after year, little by little, these life hazards and biways had inadvertently brought you to today: miles and miles still out from your x-marked spot, circled and highlighted all to hell, like it was the 4th of July on parchment.
…Well, kid…what I can tell from here, right now in this drivers seat, to you in the rearview reflection behind me, is that shit happens. Life doesn’t always pan out how you want it to, even if you preplan the hell out of it.
(…And had you learned THAT sooner, we BOTH would have had an easier time of it…)
…But I don’t wanna beat up on you about it…I can’t charge you for the landslide (or twelve) we hit on the way. It isn’t your fault. And it’s only partially mine.
I can take some of the blame, but I will not take all of it. I am only human, and I made some wrong turns and bad detours, but we all do. And this is me, telling you: Kid I Used To Know, I am tired of feeling like a failure because every green light wasn’t with us, and every day wasn’t sunny and clear with nothing but miles of open road ahead.
…Life didn’t turn out that way.
…But what at six years old and sixteen looks like some kind of end-all, be-all place forever away enough to have reached and figured all of life out (aka: age 35), looks a whole hell of a lot different in viewpoint when you look at it from 34 and 364 days.
…I don’t wanna scare the hell out of you, but the amount of shit that is gonna hit the fan for you, ‘tween then and now, is pretty significant and life-altering. But what you can take some solace in, is that you will have made it this far, and the motor’s still running…so we have that working for us.
…We may not have reached this sailing, but the trip isn’t over yet. I’m not done fighting to get there, and it isn’t the only boat, nor is a boat the only way to get where you and I wanna be. So let’s be a team in this thing, grant me some slack tomorrow…it’ll be hard enough to face…I need you on my team.
…Now get back to your book, we’ve got a lot of road to cover, and it’s a clear, sunny day.
I’ll tell you when we get there.
…Til then, enjoy the read. You always did.