Hi. Welcome to 16. This is simultaneously one of the worst and best years of your life. In fact, the only year that even compares is the year you turn 19. We’re 30 now, so I sort of feel like it’s alright to say this, “Shit just got REAL.” And by real I mean put on your helmet, pull up your big girl panties, and lace up your shit kicking boots.
You’re probably still reeling from that fight between you and dad. It’s good you didn’t actually hit Mary. You would have seriously regretted it, because now you two are really close. It took a while, but I think your brother coming out really solidified your relationship. Yes, your suspicions were right, he’s absolutely as gay as you think he is right now. Go easy on him though, he loves you so much, and even though it seems like you all are decades apart right now, today you two are thick as thieves. Y’all make holidays hilarious. I’m pretty sure this past Christmas you left mom speechless and laughing so hard she was almost crying.
Dad isn’t the bad guy. You think he is, but I promise you he’s only doing his best. You are a stubborn, independent, mouthy teenager. No one in that house knows how to deal with you. Including YOU. What you do know is that dad’s hugs are awesome. They are pretty much what brings you back home. There is nothing like them in the world. Even when you two can’t stand each other, there is a moment early in the morning, sometimes in the kitchen, sometimes on the back patio, depending on the weather and where dad is smoking, that you hug one another and all the bullshit doesn’t exist. In that moment you are still daddy’s little girl. Also, we don’t learn to drive until we graduate. I think part of this is our subconscious desire to spend as much time with dad as we can. Despite what you think, he is a pretty cool guy. Yes, I am aware you two aren’t on speaking terms right now. You’ll get a letter in the mail soon, and it will change everything. Remember, no one ever choked to death swallowing their pride. He loves you, and even though right now you think you can’t stand him, you’ll come around. Enjoy those rides, the cab of that white Chevy truck is one of your first muses.
Mom is the only one you feel like you can be really honest with and you are, until you are 17. You’re a teenager and rebellious, so you don’t tell her you decided to spend the night doing acid with your best friend Jess and your boyfriend, until she catches you. The day after is what nightmares are made of. Don’t be stupid. Seriously. Just tell her you’re spending the night in the back yard with your friends. She’s also going to give you a scare right around your 30th birthday. She has a triple bypass the same weekend of your birthday party. She’s fine now. Actually, better than fine. She quit smoking and is exercising every day and doing pretty fantastic. I’ve never been more proud of her.
You’re probably asking “Who is Jess? Sam is our best friend!” Sam IS our best friend (even now), but you meet Jess on your first day of summer school this summer. Mom drives you to the bus stop, and there are these two hoodlum looking kids in their plaid pants and painted t-shirts with their manic-panic multi-colored hair. She offers to drive you all the way to school but you see the girl is smoking a cigarette and by now you’re dying for a smoke so bad you’d rather take your chances with the goth-rock girl in the “Boys Lie” shirt. She thinks you are a pretentious hippie, you’re afraid she’s the dirty punk on the inside that she looks like on the outside, in sarcasm she offers you that cigarette and a beautiful friendship is born. Don’t be such a judgmental bitch later on, you two won’t really speak for a while, and you’ll find out later it’s because you’re a total jerk. Listen to her more often. If you do, she’ll save you from a really painful heart break. She’ll also help save your marriage a few times over.
This year you’ll learn about death. You’ll have a friend die the first week of school. Your childhood dog, Sam, will die next, then a new friend and old soul who you promised you would always love. You’ll also lose your Grandmother Edith this year and Grandpa next year. Get used to death. It’s inevitable and you will have to break some really hard news to some very important people when you’re older. It never gets easier, but you are made of stuff stronger than diamonds.
You know how you were always terrified that people hated you? You’ll find out later, thanks to this really cool thing called ‘social networking’ that all of them actually really liked you (and they still do). People you never expected to talk to again after high school will all of a sudden pop up and tell you how happy they are to be back in touch with you again. This validates your suspicion that you are indeed pretty freaking awesome.
Oh yea, GO TO COLLEGE! Do this earlier rather than later. Taking classes sporadically is a bad idea. You drop out of college at 19, for good reason, but it shouldn’t take you so long to go back. There is this really terrible six month period when you’re 19. You and your boyfriend of two years (whom you live with) break up. This sends you back to your nomadic ways. It sucks. You work two jobs, live with a complete jackass roommate and then in the span of about a month you are kicked out of your apartment, move in with your friend, and fired for the first time. That same friend starts dating the same guy you had been dating, you move back in with mom, and then to top it all off, you’re arrested. The good news is the midst of this life downward spiral, you meet the love of your life. I don’t want to spoil the surprise, but WOW, just WOW. It takes a LOT of work though. You learn more about forgiveness, redemption and the difficulties of truth than you thought possible. He’s poking fun at you for crying as you write this, but it’s in a good way, because as soon as you are done shooing him away from your work, he’s going to give you a big hug and tell you how much he loves you.
I know this is getting really long, but I promise just a few more things. First, wear shorts. You’re legs are awesome. They will change shape and size a lot over the years because your weight will fluctuate a lot, but seriously, if you don’t start flaunting those gams now, you’ll be 30 before you wear shorts.
Second, STOP smoking sooner rather than later. It’s a terrible habit. You’re going to spend a fortune in dental work, your orthodontist will give you sub-par treatment because she’s judgmental and hates smokers. There’s a very real possibility that you paid for your dentist’s pool deck and you still have lots of work to be done. You do have a great smile though.
Third: Boobs are not as important as you think. A wise man once said, “There are big breast men and there are small breast men. They are ALL breast men.” You marry him. Your confidence is what is attractive, not your boobs. Even though you are an anxious bundle of nerves 99.9% of the time, you know that you are smart, independent, and brave. NEVER forget this. You always have been and always will be capable of far more than you give yourself credit for.
Lastly, your next birthday is going to be amazing. Picture sitting on a balcony in Venice (yes, Venice, Italy), drinking wine and enjoying the best trip of your life with your best friend. The only birthday that compares to this is our thirtieth, but I’ll let you enjoy the surprise of that one. Just know you have a whole lifetime worth of people that love you. Make sure you appreciate every last one of them.
Right now I know you don’t know exactly what your dreams are, or where you want to go and what you want to do. It’s okay. We figure it out later, and we’re doing it. Also, this letter just barely scratches the surface of the insanity that is your life for the next 14 years. Buckle your seat belt kiddo. You are in for a ride so wild Mr. Toad would be jealous.
P.S. We still have that epic Tool shirt. You also get to meet Maynard James Keenan. Yes, you squeal like a thirteen year old girl, luckily it’s not right in front of him.
Camicia Bennett: Founder of The Well Written Woman, Florida Native and cerebral creature, she loves her husband, yoga, red wine, potty humor, swearing superfluously and putting hats on her dog. If given her druthers she’d be surfing the web and writing randomness from someplace sunny and tropical whilst sipping her favorite vino. Oh wait, that’s exactly what she does.You can find her tweeting incessantly or randomly sharing her own brand of slightly pretentious propaganda at her personal blog