How are you? It’s been a while and I can’t remember what you look like exactly. Do you still wear those fake septum rings in your nose? Did you cut off all your hair yet? I know you’ve been thinking about it. I hope you’re feeling okay after mom kissed you goodbye and cried in the small space between the fridge and the front door of your new dorm. It feels more like your first apartment, doesn’t it? Minus the brick matrix outside those giant windows. Freedom that looks like prison, complete with an oven that burns everything inside. I know it makes you sad to see her cry, but you’ll get used to the feeling—not exactly the feeling of disappointing someone, but uselessness, wanting to fix something that isn’t broken or change something out of your control. You’ll feel that a lot, so don’t be stubborn.
Learn your lesson quick and move on.
There are a few things I want to tell you. I’m not sure how you’ll take it or if you’ll even listen, but you’re going to cry a lot this year. And then, hardly at all. When you find that blue pack of American Spirits at Coliseum, leave it. This will only make you think it’s okay to smoke cigarettes when you’re drunk and sad. And eventually, just when you’re sad. Save the first cigarette you smoke by yourself, behind Stone on a Saturday, when no one is around. You feel alone and self-destructive. The charred butt will remind you of this, crisp almost to the eagle. The nicotine buzz fades faster than these feelings, but they too will pass. Everything does. A year later, you will still have the pack. Half empty. Hide it when you move so mom doesn’t find it. Hide it so well you never find it.
You’re a teenager. Soon to be 19. You think you’re grown because you learned how to take out loans all by yourself, but you’re not. 18 is nothing. You’re still a virgin. Never worried you couldn’t pay a bill on time. You’ve never screamed so hard at another person it made you choke. You’re just a baby. It’s strange for me to know you’re going to let life beat your ass before you remember all the things mom and dad taught you. You’re too smart to be so stupid. You should know what you deserve. But you’re hardheaded. I guess they told you that too.
I wish I could be there to help you through the rough parts; to remind you to breathe when your vision tunnels and all you can do is panic; to hug you outside of French class when you hear about Max and the bullet he got for his birthday. I want to tell you that some people here are worth your time, to get out of bed and go find them. But I can’t do anything to help you. I guess if there’s one thing I want you to know, it’s that everything is worth it.
When bad things happen, just remember what Vonnegut told us in high school, when we used to come home and cry: “everything was beautiful, and nothing hurt.”
Take care of yourself and others,