watch your step
by Liz Davies
Several days ago, I was lucky enough to find a letter that I had written to myself 10 years ago when I was in the seventh grade. What I found went beyond anything that my current self was expecting.
A few details first: this letter was written in size 14 Comic Sans. That alone makes me want to find a time machine and find 13-year-old Liz to knock some sense into her. I had the audacity to hand an essay into a teacher looking like this? This was an academic assignment, not my AIM profile. Also, there are more “probably’s” in this article than I have written in all essays since. It sounds ridiculous, but at least I had the sense not to forcefully assert my predictions.
“In 10 years from now, I’m going to be 23 years old. I will probably be working as a cast member on the TV show ‘Saturday Night Live.’”
The first sentence ends the accurate part of this essay. Looks like old Liz Davies wasn’t as bad at math as everyone thought. It also looks like my past self was really rooting for my future self to fail. The fact that I thought I could make it all the way to the greatest comedy show of all time within a decade is pretty ambitious. That’s like saying “I’m probably going to Jurassic Park to hang with some dinos today.” It’s just too awesome so speak of so casually.
“That year, I’m going to marry someone who works with me. We probably met the year before when we both started working together. He’s probably only going to be a couple months older than me, no more than a year or two.”
The whole not-being-on-SNL thing kinda deterred the rest of the plan here, and the age thing seems a bit restricting. Ever heard the term “beggars can’t be choosers?” Well, little thirteen-year-old Liz must not have. But again the optimism is commendable.
“We’ll have a golden retriever dog, and maybe some fish.”
I have never liked animals nor have I ever owned any pets.
“We won’t have any kids yet, but we probably will in about three or four years.”
The idea of current me having kids in three or four years is absolutely ridiculous. I just did a spit take after hearing someone say “butt hole,” and my only goal for tomorrow is to pick up the bottle of sunscreen that fell off my desk last week (authors note: I wrote this two days ago and that sunscreen bottle is still smiling up at me from the middle of my floor).
“We’ll live in a big apartment in New York so we can get to and from work quickly.”
Do you know how expensive apartments in NYC are? 13-year-old Lizzie definitely didn’t. I could currently afford to live in the shittiest apartment or crack den in NYC for about a month and a half.
“I’ll stay in touch with all my friends, and introduce them to all my new friends.”
I’m just going to leave myself with a quote from the movie Stand By Me: “I never had any friends later like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anyone?” Of course I’ve kept and made incredible friends over the years, but the optimism of my younger self is a bit ambitious. Most of my Facebook friends are people I haven’t seen or talked to since middle school anyway, so I’ve already failed.
“I’ll probably be about five feet, eight inches tall; I won’t have grown after I was thirteen. My husband will be taller than me. Not a ton taller, but he’ll be about six feet tall.”
I find this to be the saddest part of the essay for a couple different reasons. First, it’s pretty obvious that this girl is extraordinarily self-conscious about her height. Sure, most of my friends only came up to my newly developed boobs, but they caught up at some point. Second, being tall had its advantages and I didn’t take them seriously at all. I probably could have driven to school and no one would have questioned it. Finally (and most heart-breaking), I grew another inch since I wrote this. Despite all my will power, and a cigarette and coffee habit that I developed in order to stunt my growth, I peaked at 5’9” (I never started smoking and the coffee addiction came much later).
“Both of us are going to be financially independent, so we can afford lots of cool stuff.”
Those words may as well have been written directly by my mother. She literally once said to me, “if you need to get out, you better have the money to do so.” Either that, or “Independent Women” by Destiny’s Child was my favorite song that year. Those are equally possible explanations.
“All in all, I’m going to have a great life, with a few bad things that might happen along the way. There will definitely be more good things than bad things. I’ll have a perfect life, and I’ll be lucky to have a life like this.”
The fact that my entire life’s plan relied on the idea that I would end up on SNL by 23-years-old sort of derailed all of my other plans, but for the most part I did end up happy. My life is far from perfect, but I’m still pretty okay with everything.
At this point in my life, I could change the date to ten years from now, and this letter would still be a pretty accurate description of my dreams. Except now I would title this “The Most Unrealistic and Yet Ultimate Dreams of Liz Davies.” I’ve always had some pretty hefty goals for myself, but none more extravagant than those of when I was thirteen. Then high school, college, and the real world jaded me into becoming the withered, old woman who lives in a world where *Nsync doesn’t make new music. And thus, a thirteen-year-old’s dreams were destroyed.