You are thirteen and living in Orlando in the home Mom and Dad built from ink on paper to the carpet in between your toes, you don’t appreciate it now, but you should. You have the bigger room, bigger closet, big sister across the hall, and your art room is fifteen feet away. You have your own golf cart, dirt bike, surfboard, and games galore. Life is pretty great, isn’t it? Love every second of it because your world is about to turn upside down.
You are going to move, a lot. The biggest will be to Texas when you are fourteen after Mom and Dad divorce. You aren’t going to hate Dad, but your big sister does and this will drive you apart. Let her be and don’t feel guilty for answering his calls and going to dinner. Twiddle your thumbs and bite your nails when he mentions Mom, he’ll think you have odd habits now because of him, roll your eyes and continue to smile. Just remember and forever keep with you that there is a difference between forgiveness and accepting intolerable behavior.
Mom’s tendency to move every six months will be etched in your heart and be prepared to fight the urge to do the same. You’ll like starting over; making friends you will eventually lose because that is all a part of growing up. You’ll like being whoever you want to be, and that is where you will find yourself.
Don’t complain about family gatherings; go, enjoy, and learn as much as you can from your exceptionally intelligent grandmother and traveling aunt and uncle. They won’t be around forever and they know a lot more than you could ever imagine. So, sit outside and let them lecture you about health and tell you you’re too skinny and don’t text or think about what you’re going to eat for dinner. Look in their eyes and see and feel all the pain they have felt, as well as all the glory.
When mom is cooking, learn her ways. Her Mexican spice runs in your blood and you’ll wish you knew how to cook. Mom, along with every romantic comedy, will teach you the only way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, so I suggest you start learning now. This way you won’t fumble with spatulas, and tongs, and can use your oven for more than storage.
Eat whatever you want. You have the rest of your life to worry about your weight and appearance. You have the metabolism to eat donuts every day, but go ahead and choose your first love: pizza. Your opinion of yourself is the only one that matters, so treat yo’ self and love yo’ self all day, every day.
Go to school, do your homework; I know it is easy for you but teach yourself now not to accept procrastination and the idea that “C’s get degrees”. Get involved, run for student body President, lose, run for Treasurer, lose, prom committee? Own that sh*t and put it on your resume. Join a sport and stick to it. You are going to play tennis, soccer, basketball, softball; you are going to dance and do gymnastics, but PLEASE PLEASE, find a favorite and forever do it. You’ll really like dance.
Take theater in high school. People will ask you why you are so dramatic and say you aren’t, you are theatrical.
Have fun, make mistakes, get in trouble, get grounded, sneak out anyways to kiss the mysterious boy from last Saturday. He takes the sadness away; you are sure he is the one. He isn’t, not even close. He is the precursor to your life of tall unattainable dark haired boys that will destroy you from the inside out. But this boy, he has value. I want you to feel and feel everything so deeply and so fully and react without regret. We want the last time you regret something to be the fifth grade when you didn’t ask Matt to Sadie Hawkins. Don’t turn cold when this boy drops your heart, he is the first of many.
Continue to think everyone is a good person for as long as you can. You will learn through constant disappointment that the only person you can count on is yourself, and sometimes that isn’t even enough. So stop checking your phone, he isn’t going to text you; he is going to make you feel terrible. Get mad, and then get over it.
Drinking behind the bleachers at football games isn’t cool but you will do it anyways because the boy with smoke in his grin and fire in his eyes might be the one. You want him to like you and that is okay; this is where you will make a promise to yourself to only do things for you and no one else.
Don’t fall in love with coffee just yet. Go brush your teeth instead. You have Dad’s great teeth and the wine, tea, and coffee will taint them; so listen to your doctor and brush them three times a day, maybe even four.
Sleep all day, every day; trust me on that one.
Pretend to be sick because you didn’t study for your algebra 2 test and the boy that sat next to you broke your heart over text the night before. Your eyes will be puffy and blood shot; utilize this opportunity and take a day for yourself. You will still have the test and that boy will still be in your class, but you’ll need that day to remind yourself that it is okay to take your time and what is coming is better than what is gone.
Take the journal mom gives you to “write down your feelings” with a grateful smile. Write for a few days then burn every inked page in fear of Mom reading what you’ve revealed.
Get lost in stories you wish were about you. Read happy endings, write realistic ones. You will find your love in story-telling and the ability to find a way to temporary mute the voices in your head, who knows, maybe you’ll end up majoring in it.
Do whatever your little heart desires. You will be criticized and judged for quitting every job justified with; I never do anything I don’t want to do. You’ll grow up and travel the world, writing, and laughing at all the skeptics in their cubicle from 9-5 making mediocre money and having mediocre sex. The best feeling to you will be achieving something everyone said you couldn’t, you’ll love to prove people wrong.
Take pictures of everything, print them, and hide them in a box with small keepsakes like the ticket stub from your worst date, a stale rose from your best friend’s funeral and label it Bad Memories Do Not Open.
Honestly, all of this is irrelevant to what I really want to tell you, prepare you for. The hardest thing for me to tell you right now is that someone will break your heart more than any boy that doesn’t call you back or tell you he loves you ever will. I don’t know how to tell you that you will meet the love of your life and you will lose her. Your best friend will rob you of your sleep and consume your thoughts every day for the rest of your life once she is gone. Losing her will test your faith, patience, friendships, and everything you stand for. I wish I could somehow lessen the pain you will feel or say something to help, but all I can say is I can’t wait for the day you meet her; cherish every moment you have with her, please.
Lastly, whatever you are doing right now, you are doing right. I don’t need to know what it is but you are living, loving, losing, laughing, crying your way to the person you will be and I’m so proud of you.
I’ll be seeing you soon.