Circa 1994 (age 16 or 17)
Dear Lisa (I didn’t go by my given and much older sounding name, Alisa, back then):
Hi, I’m who you’re going to be. The journey wasn’t easy, and I won’t candy coat it for you and tell you that the struggle ends. It doesn’t, but it gets easier every year. You’re going to come across great losses in your life from people you love, careers you nearly had, and money you couldn’t keep. But, I won’t begin there. You will experience more than most people your age and to prove this I’ll give you a sneak peak of what’s in store: skydiving, you WILL get a record deal for a band (sorry you don’t become a rockstar though), you’ll join the Army (don’t ask just get out quick), you’ll make a large amount of money all at once (do us both a favor and don’t spend it all in one place, please I beg of you to remember this when the alcohol takes over – trust me on that one), all sorts of love you will experience (try to learn from each and every one and don’t destroy anyone – save the regret for another lifetime), the written word will be your guide (I don’t mean the Bible, so when you get depressed, and you better believe you’ll battle with that an above average amount, just write it out because it will serve you in the long run), you will wind up at MTV (so don’t spend years wasting away in a depression because you live in Antlers, Oklahoma–you do get out of it and do pretty well for yourself), and you’ll get married (I’ll keep this one to myself because it won’t even make sense to you now, but you’ll end up here anyway).
I won’t alarm you with talk of death since I apparently talk about it all too much anyway. Rather, I will just tell you to look around at your family and friends because a few of them will not be around when you sit here writing this post. Enjoy them, and for crying out loud ‘listen’ to everything about someone…don’t listen to speak like you do, stubborn, narcissistic you, just get to know them, really know someone, and cherish it because it won’t last long. Another thing, time…it really DOES fly by so don’t roll your eyes at your grandmother’s sayings (you will say them too, eventually).
About your father, yes, he’s still alive. Well, as alive as he can be considering…his health is fine but his heart…well…it functions perfectly fine but it’s certainly not something you need to win. I have a feeling knowing what I know now won’t help much, in this department, but try to just understand that when someone is in survival mode and stops learning….they can’t really pass anything on to you because they’re too busy trying to just get through life. I’m sorry for this, Lisa, I am, but somewhere inside just find a way to forgive him for what he does not know about love because as you’ll learn, not everyone loves like you do.
So now let’s talk about Mom, yeah I know where you are right now. Frustrated. Don’t worry about that idiot she married, David, he won’t last so give her a break every now and then. Also know that you two are so close, so try not to take it personally when she doesn’t have enough to go around and wastes her energy on David, like I said his time ends (eventually). A couple good things to come out of their relationship..it’ll change your life…trust me on that! Remember, she never really had a ‘single’ life so let her live it up because you turn out pretty damn good anyway and in the end…she’s your best friend and #1 fan.
Your brother, Jeffrey, all I can tell you is that he’s a VERY special person and I urge you to never IGNORE him and ALWAYS be there for him because he NEEDS you. There will be times, a lot of them, that you’ll be selfish but please I beg of you…life is too short to waste on not being there for those you love…so please, Lisa, if you don’t listen to anything I say in this letter just trust that this is the most important…leave your heart open for him. Also, I’ll just say it…he’s your biggest teacher in life. So, if he calls just answer it!
It would be easy to tell you everything, but I wouldn’t change that for you because all of the heartache, and believe me it’ll shake you to your core many many times in the next 15 years, serves you well in the long run so I wouldn’t want you to change anything.
On friends, pay attention to those that care for you because in the end those are the ones still standing. Don’t put the extra effort into those that don’t put it back into you…it’s a major time suckage and trust me you’ve sucked a lot of time. Mostly, you need them even though you think you don’t. Don’t push people away, and you will do that, because no man is an island.
On college, go to class! You think GPA won’t matter, and for the most part it won’t but in one situation that could make your entire life easier it’ll be there! Speaking of college, don’t be confused with some events that happen there because it’s merely a discovery for you and everyone loves you exactly the same anyway, regardless of what you may realize about yourself during this time period! Just go with it and don’t over think it, but you’ll over think everything, I know you, so just try and enjoy the moment.
Internet, yeah I know what you’re thinking ‘what does it mean’. It’ll add up eventually. Let me just tell you when you take your first plunge into this world don’t abuse anyone – you will regret it. Oh, one more thing and don’t ask, just do it…file sharing (the process of direct or indirect data sharing on a computer network with various levels of access privilege; also, the process of direct or indirect file transfer via the Internet). Once you know what the internet is come up with ways to use file sharing..I’ll give you a few hints…music, video, pictures. You’re smart enough to do this, I assure you it will pay off.
Relationships…I know it seems you won’t have them (still continue to fantasize about romance because it’ll hopefully pay the bills one day), but you will and most of them won’t work out. Just know that each one teaches you about love. You will get your heartbroken, you will break hearts, and mostly you’ll have soulmates, so don’t spend too much time staring into the abyss…it gets dark and lonely and quite frankly you tend to forget to shower and your OCD (you’ll learn about this later) gets pretty intense.
Alcohol, it’s your arch enemy for many years so try, TRY, to never drink from its cup, shot, can, bottle, bellybutton (don’t ask), as an escape from something difficult….it’s too easy to rely on and you like to rely on nothing and no one (though you will).
Patience, start now! It’s one of your weaknesses, so start practicing it now.
A couple more things before I let you go ‘drag main’ in your new camaro….when you drive PAY ATTENTION and BUCKLE UP, don’t throw any books at Mrs. Gardner but if you have to just don’t throw the pen too (too messy), Be nice to Eron Eighmy (you’ll meet him later, he’s a nice fella) at the prom, drink water for every alcoholic drink (remember this it’s important), don’t drop out of college (like I said, and believe me, you DO get out of Oklahoma), don’t drink and drive, don’t park your car in the first place you want to when you make it to NYC (you’ll thank me later), steer clear of drinking around a fairly well-respected manager (professionally he’s great but personally he’s a slime ball that takes advantage of little girls), don’t query agents before you’re finished-completely–with manuscripts, if you meet an annoying girl named Ericka around 2006 just ignore her completely and don’t ever–let me repeat–don’t ever befriend her (she’s a nutjob, no really certifiably insane), don’t try to make things last that shouldn’t, don’t loan movies or books to people because you’ll never get them back, read like a maniac all the time and never stop, and lastly, don’t think you can climb in windows (especially drunk).
I hope this letter helps you, Lisa. You grow into a unique person that has a lot to give. Use your talents, enjoy the music, and always remember ‘in the end the love you take is equal to the love you make’ (The Beatles). Now, go in the next room and hang out with your brother…it’ll mean a lot later on.
Very truly yours,
Alisa (age 32)