Sometimes friends have a painfully hard time being outright honest with you. Some of us just don't have it in us. And when I say "in us", I mean that it's especially tough for me because I lack both a tongue and voice box. But it has always been my presence, not my words, that have gotten you through the last 28 (quite close to 29, but who is counting?) years.
And while I'm only a silent bystander, as an old tree that you've begged your Dad not to chop down, I have watched your family take over this farm and make it what it is today. I have watched you every single year, moving generations of cattle in and out of "my" pasture; perhaps I'm a bit protective of the land I keep watch over every day.
You've changed a lot in twenty years - - you've changed even more in the last five.
But your change has allowed me to observe a few things, and as an old constant in your life, I've taken several of notes over the years. Things I've never had the opportunity to say. Until now.
My hope in writing this letter to you, in the most pivotal week of your entire life, is that you'll pass it on. To others. To friends. To your daughter or son. Maybe even to strangers.
I've waited a long time to write this letter to you. And, the letter actually beings now...
At 8: I know it isn't funny now, but "Thunder Thighs" - as your family so affectionally calls you - is actually a term of endearment. They're just not really good at thinking through family jokes. While we're on that subject: You were not adopted.
At 12: If I could tell you anything right now, it would be this: Everything is going to be okay. You aren't the most beautiful girl at school, but who is? You don't see this now, but everyone in your class (and one above and one below) is completely awkward. I'm serious. One day you'll look back at that volleyball photo and realize that there were more grids on your team mates' teeth than there were on the volleyball net in the background. It's okay: Orthodontics pay off.
At 16: I lost you. You're busy with the things you believe to be important in your life. And maybe right now they are. But do not forget that in this life, no matter the age, people matter the most.
Go have lunch with the Original and your Granddad. Trust me.
Take the time to talk to that painfully shy guy in your small engines class. Trust me.
And by the way, don't spend anymore time day dreaming about long-term plans with that kid from Northeastern. Trust me.
Your life hasn't even started.
At 20: LISTEN TO ME!! Pay attention in that InDesign class. You'll need it later. Don't pay any mind to the guy who quit calling you back last week after several dates, all of which you thought went well. One day you'll you call him the "long waste of time" while he sits around with his buddies and references you as the "one who got away" - Trust me, You win.
At 24: There are so many things I want to tell you right now! But your visits are few and far between. So, let's start here:
I know that you're in a pile of debt after buying a house on your own. You can afford it. You learn to adjust your budget. You don't need those two dresses you are dying to buy from Kohl's....trust me. You have no where to wear them, anyhow.
You worry that you left Washington, DC long before you should have. You probably did. But that move afforded you opportunities you wouldn't have had otherwise. You are exactly where you need to be. Trust me.
Do not waste your time at the Melaleuca party. Do not buy $199 in Thirty-One products - the "free" gift is NOT worth it. In fact, it's still sitting in your spare bedroom closet wrapped in plastic. But make sure you show up to every party Uncle Steve throws in the office. You won't meet "him" there, but those nights will build you.
Most importantly, a few things I want to tell you as you search for a husband.
#1: DO NOT SEARCH FOR A HUSBAND, YOU WHACKO.
Because, #2: As you read this, you should know that in less than 4 days days you'll marry the man that you've prayed for.
Yes, I'm serious.
He does exist.
And he does show up.
In a place 1,150 miles from home.
I'll tell you this: You will meet "him" and you will have no idea that he is the one. And that is the best part of your story; your story with him. The relationship builds over a short time but it moves like wildfire. I guess that is a perk of slowing down at 28. You know exactly who you are and what you want.
One final thought in this letter to you: Slow down. I don't see you much anymore because you're so "busy" - but busy is what you make it. Life happens when people are too busy to enjoy it. And remember that if something is important to you, you make time for it.
For instance, you took an hour out of your day last week to have some stranger lady scrub your face in a dark room. Not necessary.
Enjoy these days. Enjoy the people. Visit old friends. Live your life.
The Growing Tree