Ten years ago one of my best friends from high school and I created a time capsule. Last year as I was going through boxed things at my parents’ house in Louisville, Kentucky, I came across an envelope with “June 17, 2015” written on the front. I took it back with me to DC.
But I was nervous to discover what my 18-year-old self thought my future would hold. So as I went running this morning, I reflected on how 10 years ago I was with my best friend sitting on a bench near the park by her apartment complex and writing down our lives. We wrote about what we thought mattered most and what we thought we wanted to preserve for our 28-year-old selves.
So when I returned from my run, I turned the envelope over in my hands, but I couldn’t open it. Did I think I would be married by now? Did I think I would have that bestselling novel? Did I think I would be living in some foreign country? I decided it would be best to wait to open the envelope until the end of the day when I could have a glass of wine in hand and sleep on it if need be.
Twelve hours later, I opened that envelope and the first thing I read made me cry. At the top of the piece of loose-leaf above Time Capsule (because even at 18, I was an organized freak), I had written the following (in what seemed like a last minute addition):
What I Need to Remember: Love Is Real.
I hadn’t had a boyfriend at that point, and even though I was more of a romantic as a teenager than now, I don’t think that’s the kind of love I was referring to. I was thinking of the love of family and friends, and even though this was before I met diabetes and depression, I wanted my older self to remember that. That no matter what, love is real.
Even though I wrote it, I’m greatly surprised by that sentiment. The rest of the time capsule refers to my favorite movies and books and music at the time. I wanted to capture what meant the most to me at the time. But before I even listed any of my favorites, I started with important attributes: courage, strength, wisdom.
Keep in mind this is before I had met diabetes and the many other experiences that had greatly shaped my life. Courage, strength, and wisdom. I can think of no better attributes to guide a young woman in this world. My motto was “Be Bold.” It still is.
Here’s what I thought my best qualities were: honesty, open heart, confidence, and sarcasm. I think I’ve lost the open heart somewhat. But at 18, I valued it above so much else. Maybe that’s something I should consider?
I got the biggest laugh out of my ambitions.
- Write a bestselling novel and a book of poetry
- Go to Italy
- Date someone of a foreign background (yes, this was apparently an 18-year-old ambition of mine)
Sadly, I have not achieved any of these. I did return to Europe in college, but I have yet to visit Italy again so I guess I need to add that to my list, and look for some international guys to date. And yeah, keep working on that novel.My best friends at the time were my high school best friends Angelica and Hilary, but I also included my mom. That means more to me now than it probably did to me then. I always felt like my mom and I became close after I left for college, but apparently my 18-year-old self thought highly of her, too.
In terms of marriage, all I wrote was “after 27 years old.” I love myself for this. And my ultimate goal: get out of Louisville and see the world. I love Louisville now. I think I might eventually end up back there. But I didn’t love it then. Have I seen the world? Not everything but probably more than I imagined (and I mean in terms of experiences and people).
I did get out of Louisville, but if I ever end up back there, I will never feel bad about it. After all my first tattoo is in honor of that small city.
I considered family my most important relationship, which kind of surprises me since I fought often with my family in the months leading up to my college departure. But maybe leaving made me realize how much more important they were? I actually just talked to my mom on the phone about the fact that I had listed her as a best friend and she was surprised as I was. So maybe I wasn’t as honest as I thought?
In addition to naming Ultimate Frisbee as my new favorite sport (with a love for basketball still in my heart), I had named role models. Kalpesh, my Subway manager, who I admit did have a great impact on me as a senior in high school. He was the first mentor I ever had, and he was an inspiring one. Anne Frank, Gwen Stefani (yes, I was surprised by this one, too, but considering what I had to look at in the early 2000s, this wasn’t such a bad one), and my aunt Laura.
I think I respected my aunt for living by her own rules and buying and investing in her own house on her own. She didn’t have a man in her life, and she was fulfilling it anyway. I didn’t know if I was ever going to find someone (you have to remember at 18 I’d never been kissed or had a boyfriend), and I respected Laura even more for making the effort and being happy with it. If I ended up like her, I would definitely be okay with that. And I still am.
So what have I learned from my glimpse back in time? That some of my loves are still the same: food, comfort, humor, nature, and ice cream. And that certain people stick with you, no matter their proximity. For that, love is real.
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