Letter To My Younger Self by Katherine Shelton

Dear ten-year-old-You in your room in the house in Metairie, Louisiana, with the glass shelves on which were arranged your collection of tiny blown glass animals: the giraffe bending her neck over the deer, the family of mice lined up with daddy, mommy, babies, trooping along the back of the shelf, the rabbit with her pink ears. Beloved because they came from Venice, inherited from your Aunt Lib who’d lived in Florence for a year at a finishing school. There were three carved ivory monkeys too: see no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil, their paws covering eyes, ears, mouth.These came from a trip to China from your grandparents who did not live to know you. Your mother was fond of surrounding you with her educational moral cautions which you feared you’d never achieve. You were right but no one reaches those high standards even with finishing school and you will do very well at living (worry though you will).
You in that room where you’d tacked up the two felt pennants from the teams we joined at Camp Monterey named for obscure or invented Indian tribes: the Wataugas and the Nolichuckies. You were chosen as the Junior Captain of the Nolichuckies.
You in that room where your father slapped you so achingly and stingingly hard across the ear and cheek and you threw a book at him but hit the closing door.
Whatever you did or didn’t do, trust me now, sixty-five years later, to say your life will be much better than you could ever have pictured. It will be more like the glass animals and Camp and thank goodness, less like the dad.
You didn’t marry Tab Hunter though his image shone tantalizingly from your movie star scrapbook. He turned out to be gay but who knew anything about gay then except to hide it. Tab was so handsome in that tawny, all square American boy way.
Instead you found a man who could right all wrongs. Yes, my darling Katherine, you still believed this was possible, and I salute your hopeful outlook, it helped. Maybe the glass animals taught you to nurture fragility and picture new arrangement possibilities? Some truth in you found the truth in your own real “Tab,” whose feet were on the ground: a gardener and scientist, a listener, and a thinker, a loving parent to your two sons.
Oh, and he drove an MGB blue sports car! Great first date driving through the Berkeley Hills with the top down!
Love from seventy-five-year-old-Me, not as battered as we imagined, even wise as hell, same young, same old.

2 thoughts on “Letter To My Younger Self by Katherine Shelton

  1. Hi my not so fragile treasure of a glass mammal friend, I love this letter to your ten year old self. I learned a lot of cool things and were reminded of others. I hope you are writing and writing lots of these letters to all your different aged selves. I want to read more!!

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