A Letter To My Younger Self

You’d be surprised how often I write letters to people I can’t send them to. I write them to mom, dad, past friends, future friends, animals, and now I’m writing one to you, my younger self.

I could just see your face reading this. You’d scoff, then toss it aside not wanting to read it. You were never a fan of reading; now you read all the time.

You’d be surprised how much has changed.

I no longer want to be a movie star, nor is UCLA my top choice. In fact, I want to be a lawyer, and I want to go all the way to the other side of the country and pursue law in New York City.

Hannah Montana isn’t my favorite artist anymore, and Wizards of Waverly Place is shockingly not my favorite TV show anymore.

Instead, you went through the embarrassing seventh grade emo phase you shamed Rachel for going through.

If I’m honest with you, younger self, I’m so much different than I thought I’d be.

Some things stayed the same. Logan is still alive, I still love horses, and I still love to sing- though the older I get the worse I seem to become.

But, oh boy, I am definitely not the person I thought I’d become.

I no longer have hair that goes down to my hips, instead it’s right below my shoulders.

I dont have beach blonde hair or sun-kissed, clear skin. I have glasses, and I have freckles, and I have scars.

I don’t go to a big public school where I’m the most popular girl. I don’t go to beach parties on the weekends or sneak out of my bedroom window at night time. Instead, I go to a small boarding school. Instead, I spend weekends going to the movies and riding horses.

I haven’t had a boyfriend yet, but I really could care less. It was something I dreamed of, but now all I dream about is getting into college or passing my math test.

This may not sound appealing to you. You always dreamed of the crazy nights, city lights, and the “celebrity” life, and maybe a glimpse of that dream will come true in NYC, but trust me when I say what’s happened after mom and dad is quite possibly the best thing that could’ve ever happened to us.

Life has gotten so much better. I’m writing this letter contently from the warmth of my bed, music through my headphones. Summer begins in five days, and I’ll be going to Disneyland, one of your favorite places, a week from today. You used to be obsessed with Maroon 5, and I finally see them next Tuesday.

Though you had all these dreams when you were younger, none of them seemed possible due to our circumstances. They were all just dreams in arms reach, yet they seemed so far away.

Well, I’m glad to say that I’ll be a senior in just a few days. That while my dreams weren’t the same as they were when I was younger, they’re coming true, and I hope you’re proud of me.

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Dear Father

Dear Father,

Or should I call you that?

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Were you really a father to me, or simply a mere memory.

Of someone I dreamed would be.

But this letter isn’t a poem to you.

I wrote one to mother months ago, and every week I’ve been pondering whether I should write one to you. I never know what to say to you, or what memories to reminisce, simply because there are none.

Yes, you were a father, but biologically only. You weren’t a father until you had to be. Until, you got the call that mom had died, and you suddenly had to drop that neglectful act and realize you had two kids to raise whom you left behind.

But according to you, you never left us behind, did you?

You’d send $500 a month to keep us barely below the poverty line. You’d take us on Sundays to shopping malls and Jamba Juice trips in hopeless attempts to buy our love and respect, but those are feelings that cannot be bought.

They are earned, but you didn’t earn them.

Yes, I loved you the way any daughter unconditionally loves their father, but there was nothing else to love.

You missed dance performances for business trips, and movie nights during computer drifts.

I have no memory of you besides the fragments of moments spread over the years of my childhood, a childhood I long to forget.

Do I miss you? I wish I could say yes, but there’s nothing left to miss. Yes, you were better than mom, at least at parenting, but at least mom was there. At least she left knowing that she’d always be in my mind.

I wish I could pour my heart into this letter like I did for mom, but I simply can’t. She changed my life, but you weren’t around enough to do that.

I know you tried your best. I really thank you for that. You did everything you could to keep my childhood intact.

You were pure at heart, but for a child who was ignored desperately, pleading for an escape, it would never be enough.

As much as I loved you, like any daughter loves a father…

You’d never be enough.

One day, my love.

I met you on a ferris wheel.

Well, that was when I really met you, your soft hands and nervous laughter, nervous but happy.

remember when we first started talking, during awkward lunch hours, and way too late at night over text. I remember that time when you walked me back to the bus and everyone inside was staring at us, but our friends approved. They knew just how perfect we would be for each other.

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I remember that first kiss, so sweet and unsure, but so convinced it was right. I remember realizing how madly I was falling in love with you, when I had to leave you for the summer.

We have such a great history. I mean, you sent me flowers to Germany. You gave me an engraved necklace confessing your love. We’re going to go to Paris together.

So I’m asking. Why do we have to end like this?

Don’t get me wrong, I know this is the best decision for us to make. But why? Why is this the best we can possibly do? The longest we can possibly go?

I don’t understand the universe. Once it brought two soulmates together, why would it break them apart so soon? Why would it give us this choice to make, so bitter and sour and burning hot?

It’s not fair. You know that, I know that. And obsequiously, we go along with it.

I see couples that get so much more time together, that get to go out for dinner on a Tuesday night, or go watch a movie after school, or walk their dogs together at sunset, and I am so jealous. It’s that red, yellow, glowing jealousy that you can’t turn off. I hate it. I want to be happy with what we are given. But there will always be this huge part of me that wishes for us to have that life together. I know we deserve it.

One day, my love, one day.

goodbye

you know, i write all these poems for you,

but what if when we meet again it’s different.

the world is still on your shoulders,

but in a new way.

your hair doesn’t flop the same way.

our conversations are short and stunted.

our awkward moments too awkward.

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when you see me again,

it won’t be like the millions of times i’ve played it over in my head.

everything will be different.

and, i’m scared as hell,

because i want our same.

i want our drawn out conversations about everything and nothing at the same time.

i want when you think of me,

instead of letting the thought float by,

to pick up the phone and call me.

i want our effortlessness and our groove.

the way we worked together was unbelievable.

i can’t imagine you without your snide comments and brilliant random thoughts.

i can’t imagine you with me, without our little quirks.

if we meet again,

it can’t be anything different,

because then we’re already too far apart.

we’re in different universes

when we need to be in the same rooom.

a reminder

everything reminds me of you.

the summer nights that never really begin until 8 pm and

the smell of salt in the air.

sitting by the fire while the breeze comes off the ocean.

my wet hair soaking through your sweatshirt.

i miss that.

peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in ziplock bags,

mountain bikes and dust and

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the music we listened to and the long, hot

afternoon hikes that seemed to last forever.

smiles. i see your smile in every smile.

stars and soda cans and trucks driving through orchards.

pencil sketches or skateboards or grassy hills or pizza boxes.

trying to fit five people into the backseat of the car.

being too loud in movie theaters.

i think about you now because

i haven’t started any of my homework yet,

and i know you probably haven’t either.

whenever i think of anything, i think of you.

maybe that’s why i’m so sad.

Pool toe

When we were kids, we spent the entire summer in the pool.

We would bounce around in the water for hours on end, using our feet to push off the sides so many times that we would get blisters on our toes. By the time we got out, pruned and sunburnt, our feet would be bleeding from scraping them on the concrete so much. But we didn’t care. Mom called it pool toe.

I remember how we used to eat breakfast as fast as we could, and then we would play rock-paper-scissors to see who got to jump in first. We swam from morning until night, only pausing for a lunch break of watermelon and pretzels.

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Your hands always shriveled up faster than mine did. You used to tell me it meant we were turning into fish, and I was convinced it was true. You also swam faster than I did, but sometimes, if I was lucky, you’d let me win some of our races.

Whenever there was a breeze it would get too cold in the water. To warm up we’d haul ourselves out of the pool and lay with our stomachs down on the concrete deck, like lizards on rocks.

I remember my tangled, sun bleached hair, and the smell of the special shampoo Mom made me use that prevented it from turning green from the chlorine. I remember family commenting on how bloodshot my eyes were, but I wasn’t bothered. I didn’t mind if my eyes were a little bit red and sore, so long as I could avoid the inconvenience of strapping on goggles.

We had changing lights for when we swam at night. I would stand on the diving board, staring down into the water below. The green water meant there were alligators lurking; so I obviously couldn’t jump in, for danger of being eaten. Blue meant sharks, so once again there were some risks. But when the water was pink, it was clear of all man-eating creatures, so it meant I was free to dive in.

When we were kids, we thought days like those would last forever.

I miss it. When we didn’t care if our fingers were shriveled up like prunes, or if our noses were bright red and peeling, or if we had pool toe.

 

 

Things We Lost In The Fire

I never realized how easy it is to take the things you have for granted, until they disappear into the wind like ashes from a fire. I remember playing those awkward ice breakers with people you’ll never really know, and one question that always seems to show up is: “If you could only take three things from your house in a fire, what would they be?”

I never had a definite answer. Obviously there were the essentials: passport, laptop, cellphone, and valuables, but I never imagined that one day I’d actually have to make that decision. That one day, in a panicked hurry, I’d have to scurry across my dorm room worrying about what I should bring, and being filled with regret over the things I left behind.

On December 4th, 2017, a wildfire ignited its flames outside the place I’ve called my home for the past three years, and on December 5th, it had reached the beloved campus and destroyed multiple classrooms, the dorms, and everything in its wake. On December 4th, we were told to evacuate, and we were asked to grab a backpack for one night. We were told to pack anything we absolutely couldn’t live without, but we were also told not to worry about our other stuff, the fire would pass, and everything would be okay. So, I packed what I held closest to me. I packed my polaroid pictures recalling the memories from my sophomore year. I packed a single stuffed animal: a panda I was given in second grade. I packed my All Time Low pillow, my signed posters, a UCLA shirt, my favorite leggings, and two t-shirts.

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But still, there were so many belongings surrendered to the flames. I lost years of memories put up on a small cork board above my wall. There held all my concert tickets, plane tickets, medals, and setlists from concerts I had caught in the crowd. I had lost all my riding ribbons I had won in the last couple of years. I’ve lost tour t shirts, my guitar, articles of clothing which held little bits of my personality in each thread, and class notes I’ve worked on hours into the night just so I could have a good grade the next day. They weren’t the most expensive items in my life, but they were the ones that were tokens of moments in my life that I cherished, or the moments that defined me. They were the things lost in the fire that I regret leaving behind the most. I guess if I could go back in time and grab a few more things, I’d make sure they reached my bag first.

While mourning this fire, my family constantly tried reassuring me that everything was replaceable, but then they’d ask me what I missed most, and what I missed most wasn’t what was replaceable. However, despite the hard process, I come to realize that those small items I’ve lost are still there, but in the form of memories that will stay in my head forever, for the rest of my life. Someday, after all the debris descends into the ground, and the years pass, I will have new tokens from new memories to hang up above my bed, and the tragedies from this fire will soon become a distant memory, only serving reminders through the objects I saved from it.