I infected him with my musical taste as a wee lad. My son plays the piano…because he wanted to learn to play Eric Hutchinson songs. This particular song got him through a ‘bully’ situation at school in the third grade, and if I didn’t already love Mr. Hutchinson and his music before that…well…
I like the song too. It kind of calms me down on bad anxiety days too, to be honest.
And those lines,
‘You’ll be older one day
I’m writing from the future and we’re doing okay…
…things are gonna change, but change is better than you thought…’
reminded me of this generic blog writing prompt I did a while back (pretty sure it was last May). It was this question…
What would your 14 year old self think of you now?
She’d be earnestly stunned.
My 14 year old self spent a lot of time by herself. She didn’t feel connected to anybody she actually knew…only writers and book characters and musicians who wrote song lyrics. She was a lonely nerd, so she thought she would be a doctor who never married when she grew up. She expected a lonely, mostly thankless life of independent service and little to no companionship once her group of friends (who were mostly tenuous connections at best, and were ALL avid daters and early marry-ers) settled down to the family life she knew she’d never have. She thought all the creative, whimsical, ‘frivolous’ things she had passion for would need to be set aside to earn an independent living. Because making up stories is childish and she should have already given up even thinking about that at fourteen. She felt old at fourteen. She felt like the grown-up in the house at fourteen…already responsible for other people and no time for her own passions…certainly no one to look out for or look after HER. Growing up would only make that more pronounced, right? She’d be MORE alone. And because she’d definitely be on her own for the rest of her life, she thought depending on other people for anything from finances to emotional support was stupid. And being a writer…doing something creative that didn’t bring in regular, steady money, that was dependent on the taste of other people…on the discretionary income of other people…or on someone else to support her while she pursued that…was therefore not only unwise, but impossible. In her experience, other people couldn’t really be depended upon. Everything was up to her alone. She’d have to do something more practical…more ‘useful’…more stable…more lucrative.
(Here’s where it gets REALLY sappy…)
Once 14 year old me processed the shock of seeing her adult self as a stay-at-home parent who writes love stories, happily married to The Man of Her Dreams…she’d probably cry. Not from disillusionment, although she’d probably have to work through some of that, honestly. Because 14 year old me was still heavily buying into the myth that you have to fulfill other people’s expectations for your life to be worthy and/or successful and/or happy. And because she wholly believed that relying on another person for anything could only lead to pain and disappointment. She’d cry because 14 year old me (very similar to 40 year old me) would be disappointed instead with herself for being so wrong and misjudging J like that…assuming there were ZERO other people she could rely on or ‘fit’ with, and that would make her cry. She’d cry because she’d realize that at 40, her adult self really truly did get everything she really wanted in her heart.
(Warned you all about the sap…but that’s the truth of how 14 year old me would think of me now.)
I love the ending of ‘Dear Me,’ where Mr. Hutchinson admits that his younger self wouldn’t listen to him.
‘If I were you, I would not care
When some old man said to beware
So, you probably won’t listen to a word I say
Probably won’t listen to a word I say
Probably won’t listen to a word I say,
But we’re doing okay…
14 year old me wouldn’t listen to 40 year old me either. For sure. But I still kind of wish I could tell her…you know…THAT. To hang in there through all her loneliness and feeling like she’s a misfit and a misunderstood outsider. Because eventually we get HERE, and I think we’re doing way better than ‘okay.’ 14 year old me would scarcely be able to believe how happy I am now.