All right, this has been kicking around my inbox for a couple of days now, and I’ve been trying to think of a good answer, but there are several answers, and I’m not certain any of them are good.
In any case:
High School Jamie —
Don’t be jealous of the pretty girls. You’ll find out years later they were jealous of you, because they thought you were smart and cool, and because the boys treated you like a friend without trying to get into your pants.
Turns out, you are smart and cool, and so were some of them, plus, some of those boys did want to get into your pants. For what it’s worth, the dude you ended up with is hotter than most of the dudes they ended up. Except Ashley and Brad, but this two aren’t even human, aesthetics-wise — they descended from Olympus. Ashley apparently specifically descended to make obnoxious Facebook updates. But your kid is cuter than either of hers.
(I’d tell you to stop treating everything like a fucking competition, but obviously you still do that, at 29, so.)
There are three boys specifically that’ll you have wished you kissed, just to see. Kiss them. I can tell you the exact moments when you should have kissed all of them, but that’ll ruin the surprise. (Rory on the path back from the rec center, Jon on the couch in the living room, Tom in the parking garage, or his room. Or the arcade. Either arcade.) You’re already counting those pecks with Rory, but that’s not what I mean, and you and I both know it. Actually, maybe go ahead and kiss Keven, too. More for Keven’s sake than your own.
There are other boys you will kiss, and they’re all fine. Don’t let Joey dick you around so much. You’ll make a comment years later, after college even, when you see him at a party, about what an asshole he was to you in high school, and he will sheepishly own up to it. It won’t feel as good as you think it will now.
That said, keep letting those boys do what they’re doing, as long as it feels good for you. You’ll still be able to recall, with vivid clarity, what the frame of Joey’s bunkbeds felt like against your back, and that stupid yellow Abercrombie hat of his in the corner.
You’ll also still be able to recall what Logan did with his mouth on the floor of the family room at Mike’s house freshman year, at that party after your swim meet. You’ll be pleased to know that the guy you’re with does that even better, and you’re awfully kind to Logan in your memory, so that’s saying something. You’ll even be able to remember the outfit you were wearing. Candace will go to homecoming with him sophomore year, and you’ll see him around for the rest of high school, and you’ll remember what adolescent stubble feels like against your chin, and against your thighs. If you’ve already made that memory, good for you, you’re setting a good tone, balance-wise.
Don’t worry about the weed. You’re fine, and years later, you will interview President Carter for work, and you will ask him about the legalization of marijuana. Yeah, you’re gonna do that, you’re fucking ridiculous. You’re going to accidentally call him Jimmy across a crowded room, too. It’s a good party story, and he responds.
Actually, in fact, when you move to Phoenix for six months, don’t sweat it, because that will pass in a haze of all that weed, and a bunch of ska and punk shows. It’s going to be bearable, and it’s going to be fine. The whole family moves back home, because your mom hates it there. (It has nothing to do with you or the marijuana, and they don’t find out for years, and it’s only because you tell them.)
I’d tell you to take one of the fucking scholarships closer to home — especially that USC one — but who knows how that would alter the present, and you’ve made an amazing little family, so let’s not risk it. Your student loans are going to strangle you, but you’ll have really enjoyed college.
Stop saying you’re a girl who doesn’t like girls, or who isn’t like other girls. Girls are fucking awesome, and you’re being obnoxious.
Don’t worry about failing the driving test the first time. You’ll drive that intersection sometimes, and you’ll point it out to whoever’s in the car. Seriously, it’s not a big deal.
You’ll start being nicer to your parents, and to Kyle, by junior year, but good fucking god, cherish them. You’ll find out years later, from your future husband, what those years were like for other kids with different sorts of families, and you’ll realize how good you had it, and how good you have it. Your mom, especially, you’re going to be so close to Mom. Cut her as many breaks as you can, because you’ll realize when you’re older everything she sacrificed for you.
Keep with the swimming. You’re going to hate running, and I don’t blame you for quitting the cross country team, but you’ll wish when you’re nearly 30, that you’d been swimming for the last 15 years. Or practice just a little bit more, and stick with soccer. It’s up to you. They were always going to take first base from you, you don’t get any taller, so don’t sweat it on softball, even if your dad occasionally still brings it up.
That weird double chin, and your weird stomach, those never go away, no matter how much you weigh. I’d tell you to stop focusing on them, but I focused on them already several times today, so: not in a position to judge. Maybe if you start dealing with them now though, maybe that’ll help.
Stop telling people you’re a Republican. You are not a fucking Republican. Get your head out of your ass. (You’re maybe slightly fiscally conservative, though not in your own life. Get better at that.)
Embrace the fandom stuff in a more consistent manner. You’ll have been through a few by this point — Caroline in the City, ER, printed fanfics in the back of your binder, and you’re probably right in the thick of it with The X-Files, but you should participate more, talk to those people on the message boards, instead of just lurking and reading. Years later, you won’t be able to shut yourself up, and you’ll be friendly with one of your favorite X-Files writers. You’ll meet her in a fandom for a misogynistic sitcom. That’s all I can tell you.
Take those Abercrombie bags down from the wall. That’s not even your type, and you know it. Relish in those tall, skinny boys, because you are going to date them almost exclusively. You’re going to make a baby with one. He’s blond. I know, believe me, I KNOW.
Don’t lose those old CDs. All the punk mixes, the ska ones, in a fit of nostalgia every few months, you’ll wish you had them to listen to. The Clash is still there for you, and always on hand, but you’ll find yourself humming some Mustard Plug at work once in a while, and it’ll be much harder to come by.
Be better about washing your face at night, and brushing your teeth, too. Nothing terrible happens, but, fuck, would it have killed you to establish a consistent routine?
Cry, dude. I know you do, and I know you feel awful afterward, like everything is coming apart at the seams, and you should be able to stuff it all back in, but that stuff that’s bursting out? That’s hormones, and you’re not in control at all. They’ll mellow out.
I feel like I have so much more to tell you, but most of it comes down to — relax. Everything works out. Or mostly works out. Close enough to working out.
Keep your chin up, your nose clean, and cover your own ass.
Jamie at 29.
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