In my mind, I see myself as an ten-year old child in her room. She sits on the floor with posters all over her walls, books stuffed into bookshelves, papers and pencils on the floor. She sits in front of a stereo with records stacked in front of it, cassettes in a box, and a radio set to her favorite radio station. I go and sit down in front of her and she looks up at me.
“Who are you?” She asks.
“I’m you. As a grown-up, older than mom and dad are now.”
“Why are you here?”
“Because there are some things I’m going to tell you, things you won’t remember as words, but as feelings.”
Younger me sets aside her paper and pencils and looks right up at me. I can feel how hard that is for her to do, how shy and scared she is. She wants to be brave, but she feels weak and fragile.
“The first thing I’m going to tell you is you’re not weak and fragile. Physically, in about three years, you’re going to find out why you’re awkward and clumsy. The good thing is it’ll get you out of most of the stuff in gym class you already hate.”
Younger me smiles at that but she says nothing so I continue.
“You’ll start writing a lot more in the next few years. You’ll get good at it, in fact it’ll keep you passing classes when you forget to do your homework.”
“Why would I forget to do that?” She asks.
“Because you’d rather write and live in your imaginary world than the real one.”
She nods to that and I continue to the hard part of this story.
“Twenty years from now, your whole world will come crashing down on you. One day all of the decisions that have to be made will be made by you. You’ll be strong, but inside you’ll be terrified that you’re going to shatter into a million pieces. And you’ll be alone through this time. Because no one is going to get close enough to you, and hold you, and tell you everything is going to be alright. Because you know it won’t be. But you’ll survive.”
She feels my remembered pain and anguish from those years and I focus on giving her strength instead. “Like I said, you won’t remember these words, just the feelings. And nine years later, it’ll happen again but this time you’ll be better prepared.”
I just nod to that.
“Why?” She asks me.
“That’s a question I’m still trying to find an answer to. I’m working on writing a book about it. It’s about you, and me.”
Younger me smiles at this. “Does it have a happy ending?”
“It has a hopeful one. My future is still waiting to happen. And I still have hope that maybe some day someone will come into my life, and be patient with me.”
We look at each other for a moment then she crosses the small space of time between us and I hug her tightly to me. She doesn’t cry and neither do I. I hold her for as long as I can then as I let her go I tell her one last thing:
“In the future, where I’m at now, you’ll have a dog and cat.”
She giggles at that then she fades back into time and I return to my present. I know she won’t remember my words, but she’ll remember the feelings I want her to have the most: wonder, and hope.
Most of all she’ll have hope, like I do now.