Letter to My Younger Self by Lorraine Leslie

“A Letter to My Nine Year Old Self”

Dear Lori at nine years old;

Guess what? At Fifty-two you’re still wearing your hair in pigtails like you did in your fourth grade photo! Your hairstyle did change a few times in your ninth year and will continue to do so throughout your life. You will even at one point, have dreadlocks at the age of 35, but at nine you have no clue as to what a dreadlock is, neither will Mommy, so don’t ask her. I doubt Daddy will know either. Remember this summer when you fell and broke your arm roller skating outside Grandma Edythe’s house on Mountaindale Road, sporting that fetching new shag haircut?

And guess what again? You are still a klutz. Over the years you have, let me count them, at least a half-dozen trips to the emergency room; mostly for head injuries. You fall on your head a lot. I read somewhere that the injuries we sustain in our life are symbolic and have some sort of deeper meaning; for example, the many head injuries and concussions you will have in your life, might have to do with you trying to break something open in your mind or psyche, waiting for some sort of breakthrough to happen. You will feel that you have some sort of mental block that keeps you from understanding certain subjects, especially math. You will struggle with this, even as you get older. You will feel frustrated and blocked creatively a lot at times. Where am I going with this? I see you shaking your head. Yeah, it doesn’t make much sense to a nine year old, does it? It will later.

Okay, I am supposed to be imparting some kind of helpful knowledge to you, my younger self, but life hasn’t been exactly easy so far for you kiddo. This summer when you broke your arm roller skating at Grandma’s, it was unbearably hot and humid; a typical New York summer. Mom felt sorry for you and fed you way too much ice cream to cool you down and relieve some of your boredom. You even tried to go swimming a few times to beat the heat. Mom would wrap your arm in a plastic bag to keep the arm length cast dry. It was so difficult to swim like that; get any real exercise. You gained at least 10-15 pounds.

That bowl-shaped haircut mom gave you at the dining room table at the end of the summer was ridiculous looking. You had just moved to Putnam Lake from Yonkers and started 5th grade at JFK Elementary School in Brewster. All of the kids at school nicknamed you “meatball” not only because of the extra weight that you gained, but because you started your first day of class, with a bowling ball shaped head, and wearing a hand me down dress of orange wool, the color of pasta sauce! What was mother thinking?

It does get better when you become an adult. You aren’t exactly a fashion model, but at almost fifty-three, can you believe you made it that far; you are tall and slender with well-defined cheek bones and blonde hair. Remember when you wanted blonde hair? That baby fat and bowling ball shaped head is now gone, but for some reason it is still hard for you to get a date.

You will have trouble getting a date all through high school and never have a real boyfriend, except for a red-headed, freckle face stoner, named Ed, for about a month in 11th grade. He is a terrible French kisser. Avoid him if you can, but you won’t.

You will live at the Jersey Shore for couple of summers and work on the Casino Pier. You will be a disc jockey at the radio station where you attend college that has a view of the Atlantic Ocean from your dorm room. You will become a punk rocker. After college you will travel and live in London for two years, where you will lose your virginity to an Englishman named Russell. I know you ask, what’s virginity? You will understand this later. Remember, when mommy tried to talk you about sex because Cousin Terry got her period at age nine? You will get married once when you are thirty. You will be an artist. So take drawing in 9th grade and drop shop class. You don’t belong there.

So after all that, what wisdom do I still have to give you; to pass on to you in this short letter from your future self? It gets better, I promise. Keep your chin up and don’t give in to all the years of bullying you will endure. Be brave and think for yourself. Whatever doesn’t kill you in this life will only make you stronger. Clichéd, I know, but it will get you through all those hellish years of middle and high school. At nine you won’t know what a cliché is either, but it doesn’t matter, just know that you are still doing okay. You will one day move out of Putnam Lake; you will live in a city called Santa Fe, New Mexico. Life still isn’t easy, but anything worth doing is worth fighting for. Living is worth doing; at least once. And remember, I love you and will love you until the day you die. Mommy and Daddy and Grandma love you too. Never forget that, it will keep you strong and focused.

Love,

Lori (at fifty-two years old)

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