A letter to myself on the occasion of my 13th birthday

Ok, I don’t want to write all day so we’ll just hit the important things that you need to know. The next few years are going to suck, but you’ll be a better person for having survived them. One of the most valuable pieces of information I can share with you is that in a couple of months, you’re going to have your first “Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret” moment (you know what I’m talking about). From that point on – listen closely – never wear white shorts. Seriously, you’ll thank me later.

School stuff: High school is going to be absolutely horrid, but mom eventually caves in and lets you go to the Ed Center for a summer so you can skip your senior year and graduate early. Of course, then she wants you to stay in Jackson because you’re only 17 when you start college and she thinks it’s too young for you to leave home. And that’s fine. The community college that you’ll go to for a year is a good place to get some of the more basic boring classes out of the way, and it’s pretty easy to make straight A’s there. As for the rest of college, here’s some advice: Don’t go to M!ssissippi State just because Dad went there. Trust me, Starkville is not your kind of town, and you are going to hate it there. Also, don’t go to M!llsaps. You think you’re living in your sister’s shadow now? At M!llsaps, you’ll not only end up with at least 2 professors who remember her and love her and accidentally call you her name all the time, you’ll even end up living in the exact same dorm room she lived in. Here’s a tip: You’re meant to live either in or near a big city. Your closest bets are either Memphis or New Orleans. Choose Memphis. You’ll end up making friends there who you’ll keep for the rest of your life. Also, when you get the chance to go live in Washington, DC, during the summer of 1995, go. You’ll meet one of your best friends there.

Music: Stop listening to hair metal right now. Seriously, just stop. It’ll save you years of cringing in embarassment later. And whatever you do, do NOT cry when you find out that Jon Bon Jovi got married, because your brother will mock you about this for the rest of your life. In a year or two, you’re going to discover grunge, and you’re going to make a proclamation that someday you’re going to live in Seattle because that’s where all of those cute rock boys live. Believe it or not, you actually do end up living in Seattle, but it has nothing to do with grunge. In fact, by the time you move there, you don’t even listen to grunge all that much anymore.

Family: Right now you have 3 grandparents left. They’re all going to be gone before you turn 21, so appreciate them now. Same goes for your great aunts and great uncles. As for Dad, you eventually come to an understanding with each other once he finally learns to back off of you about your weight. Your whole family gets very close in the next 15 years. Right now, I know Tracy drives you crazy because she treats you like you’re just her baby sister, but she’ll end up saving your ass more times than you can count later on. You and Chris get a lot closer in high school, because you have to share a car and you end up hanging out with a lot of the same people. You also start covering for each other and lying to Mom & Dad when one of you is up to no good. He turns out to be a pretty cool guy after all (who’d have guessed?). And Mom is just Mom. She’s your rock now, and she will be 15 years from now. Some things don’t change.

As for boys, you’re going to be a late starter, and then you’ll make up for lost time with a vengeance. It’ll take you a long time to figure out which guys are bad for you (hint: everyone you date in 1997), and which ones are good. Trust me, in 2004, you’ll meet the best of the good guys, and you’ll be very happy.

Good luck these next few years, 13 year-old me. You’re going to need it.

28 year-old me