Dear Younger Claudia,
You’re sixteen and I’m sixty-one, so obviously I don’t know anything at all about anything, but let me borrow your attention for a minute. Stop reading and look at me.
The world is going to change in ways you can’t yet fathom.
There will be portable phones that you can take anywhere, send messages all over the world, and do any kind of research you want with them, and you can take photos with them. You know how we always said your sister was born with a phone growing out of her ear? Well, almost everyone will walk around with phones growing out of their ears one day!
There won’t be flying air belts, at least none we can use, but you will, eventually, pass your road test and get a driver’s license. You’ll always be a lousy driver.
New York City will become safe and airports will become dangerous. Lyndon Johnson will seem like a liberal. We’ll have a black president and we’ll have women on the Supreme Court. And yet birth control will still be an issue. All that marching around you do will actually have an impact on the world, so keep marching around.
You know how you became sexy last year, after four years of ugly-duckling-hood? Well, you’ll be sexy for the rest of your life, at least through sixty-one. No, that’s not gross, even if you think it is now. And no, you won’t ever see your natural hair color again.
What can I tell you to do differently from what you’ll actually do? I know you’re enjoying the moebius-strip nature of that question. We both know that you won’t take my advice, because, well, you didn’t. You love twisted stuff like that now and you still will when you’re sixty-one.
First: Love your mother. She won’t be with you forever, and there are things she’s dying to tell you. Listen to her stories. Be very kind and don’t judge. One day her stories will be your inspiration and you’ll realize that she never had the chance to tell you everything she wanted to because you were too judgmental. Give her that chance.
Second: Love your brother. You’ll lose him before he’s 29. His spirit will inhabit your son, but it won’t be the same. So love him while you’ve got him.
Third: You’ll marry for love, so don’t settle for anything else. There’s no hurry. Be as confident inside as you act on the outside.
Fourth: Go far away. Take more time off. Go to Switzerland when you get that offer. You’ll always regret it if you don’t.
And fifth: When you’re walking to work next week and you’re late…Don’t take a ride from anyone. Please. This one time, please rewind the future and don’t take that ride.
But you will, I know, so let me tell you now, it will be okay in the end.
You will live to at least sixty-one. I promise!
Dear Younger Claudia,