I remember you writing a letter to me, about 12 years ago, filled with unnecessary angst and earnest words that frankly make me blush for shame. Dear God, child, relax; life is not that serious. But despite your dramatics, your annoying vulnerability and your naiveté, 15, I miss you sometimes.
We are in our late twenties now. We have a car, a house, a husband and a baby. I remember that you weren’t sure if you wanted the whole domestic goddess thing, so we’ve compromised. Hubbie does most of the housework, and we have learned to pick up after ourselves.
But we no longer have the freedom that you did, 15. Unfortunately, you didn’t know how free you were then. You kept looking forward to the time when you could leave school, and work at some high-powered magazine somewhere other than Trinidad. But you were unfettered by bills, by the cries of the toddler who is now dependent on us for everything. If you wanted to write, you could. Spend all your money on CDs, and Mom would feed you. You could have gone on with your guitar lessons, taken up drawing or swimming.
And OMG, you were so slim! Without even trying! You shovelled in candy bars and carbs like a Hoover every day, and stayed at 130 pounds. And your skin had this innocent, dewy glow about it that even MAC Studio Fix foundation can’t replicate. My post-baby stretch marks salute you, 15, ‘cause no matter how hard I exercise, or how much sugar and carbs I cut out of my diet, I will never look like you again.
Enough of the fluffy stuff. You were innocent, 15, but I am really glad that you were no fool. Your determination to ix-nay any romantic relationships until university did not make us the most popular person at high school, but boy did it save us a lot of drama, heartache and emotional baggage. You were only one year away from meeting our future husband anyway, although with those huge ears and goofy grin, who could tell?
I sometimes wish that I were as sure about my decisions as you were, 15. You marched right into the prospect of writing nine CXC subjects without doubting yourself. You knew what you were good at, and that no matter what Dad said, you’d find some way to make money as a writer. And we did it!
But these days I find myself longing for some of that blind self-assurance, that dogged determination. I question myself frequently these days, wondering if I’m making the right choices for us, our daughter, our marriage, our society. Do I vote or abstain in protest? Do I continue to buy foods made with GMOs, or do I bite the financial bullet and go totally organic and local? Do I leave a full-time job to work part-time and care for De Chile? Refinance the mortgage for renovations? Can I afford to get health insurance? How do I deal with the bumps in my marriage? You see, 15, there are a lot more questions than answers these days, and, as we’ve gotten older, answering them has become harder.
But there is nothing that I would change about our life; not back then and not now. Dealing with those unrequited crushes and struggling through a truckload of reading for school helped us deal with rejection and learn self-discipline. We learned how to swallow pride and act for the common good, during those difficult moments in the dance group and the church youth group. We learned to manage our own bouts of depression by writing, saw what real friendship looked like through trial and error, and started the mental journey toward growing up, all in one year.
I am proud of you, 15, and I hope you’re proud of us too. We didn’t become all that we meant to, but we followed the path that was best for us. And we’re happy, which is what is most important, right?
P.S. You may want to dial down the daily candy purchases. and save your money for other endeavours. For example, feel free to start a national betting pool about when T&T will have its first female PM. Hint, hint: think ten years into the new millennium. And see if you can penpal a guy called Mark Zuckerberg in New York, just for kicks.