letter 15 – someone not in your state/country
Dear Emily Jane,
When I was fifteen, one of my friends was ten. We both stood in line at gymnastics practice, laughing and singing along to the radio. She taught me dance moves to “Lean Back” and swore she knew every single song on the radio.
“Why would a 15-year-old want to hang out with a 10-year-old?” She often asked me. “If you don’t want to hang out, I understand.”
It kills me to look back and know she felt that way. That she felt like she wasn’t worth it. Just a skinny little girl with nothing to offer.
At fifteen, I was a huge wreck. I’ve seen pictures of myself in baggy sweatpants and wrinkled t-shirts, my hair knotted and parted unevenly, and I often wonder why my mother let me out of the house looking like that.
Now, I understand how Grace felt. I’m twenty—almost 21 (two months!)—and one of my most loyal readers is 25 and married. In the Real World with a Real Job.
And still I think, “Why? What does a 25-year-old stand to learn from me? What do I have to offer her?”
I’m not sure.
What I do know is that you’ve Been There. And that’s invaluable to me.
You’re Alice and you’ve already been down the rabbit hole and back. You’re Dorothy and you carved a path to Oz. You could probably draw me my own Yellow Brick Road if I asked you.
But more than that, more than the wisdom and insight you offer by being five steps ahead on the path called “life,” you are one of the most true friends I have in this crazy, messed up world.
Maybe that’s sad. Probably, it is. But it’s true.
I’ve never met you face-to-face, and that leads to more than a few reservations on other people’s parts.
“How do you know she’s not some forty-year-old man?” I’ve been asked.
And I grow angry, maybe tense up for a second, and then answer them calmly.
“Because you can’t pretend like that. You can’t pretend to be a 25-year-old British girl living in Canada with a job and a fiancé (now husband). With reservations about speaking in public and singing in front of something other than the mirror. With interests in science fiction and helping others.”
You’re more loyal than some people I do know face-to-face. You read each post and you comment and add some new insight with each one. You always encourage me to be the best I can be. You’re a cheerleader whose words take the place of pompoms. A guidance counselor. An interested bystander.
You’ve Been There. Done That. Crossed through every awkward stage, every tough moment, before me.
There’s a very large part of me that wishes I had something just as valuable to offer you. If you ever need to know something random about running or gymnastics or living in a suburban town outside of Philadelphia or dealing with little sisters or going to college where everyone else is paying in-state tuition and you feel like an outsider, I’m your girl. I can help you with that.
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