a decade

July 5 2001

Dear 21-year-old me,

Tonight (well, actually, in the wee hours of tomorrow morning, but don’t worry – you’re young, you’ll be awake) you will kiss a boy. The setting won’t be anything spectacular – a fraternity house rooftop sun deck furnished with smelly couches of dubious descent and littered with Busch Light cans and cigarette butts. Even the kiss itself may not seem life-alteringly significant when it happens, more of a pleasant surprise, a lucky ending to one of the seemingly endless string of carefree nights you’re enjoying this summer, the summer of 2001.

It is significant. He is significant. He may not seem like the one for you right now, at this moment, which is precisely why he is exactly the one for you, for always. You’ll think he’s a little too laid-back, what with the unemployed-and-still-living-in-his-frat-house-a-month-after-graduating-from-college thing, and the sleeping-until-2pm-ish-ness, and the way he never gets the least bit riled up about anything ever, except for maybe the Cubs. He probably is a little too laid-back, but guess what? You could really stand to loosen up. So go with it is all I’m saying.

Call it a summer fling as long as you want, because I know you wanted to be single this summer. Deny that there’s anything serious going on when people ask; they won’t believe you anyway because it’s too obvious that this is both a summer fling and also a forever thing. Resist the “boyfriend” label if you want, if it makes you feel more independent, more carefree, less attached. Call him whatever you want, but don’t let him go.

Don’t let this one go. He’s kind. He loves his family. He’s funny – really funny. He’s calm and you need calm; you will always need calm. He’s smarter than you in so many ways, which will both infuriate you and yet is also critical to keeping your interest. He will beat you at Scrabble so consistently that you will scream obscenities and yell your verbal SAT score at him and forever ban Scrabble from your game cupboard.

Because I’m going to tell you a secret, 21-year-old me: ten years from now you will have a game cupboard in a house you share with this boy. This man. A game cupboard and a linen closet and a playroom in a home that is yours together, with a leaky roof and a barking dog and two sleeping babies. Babies that are yours together, with bits of him and bits of you combined in such a way you can’t even imagine it now, having only just met him, but which will seem someday to you so perfect, so very very perfect.

It sounds crazy now, I know, because you don’t want to think about anything besides being 21 in the city in the summer, but it’s true.

It’s true now and it will be true ten years from now. He’s the one.

your 31-year-old self

PS – You might want to tell him not to get his hopes up about the Cubs; they’re just as awful in 2011 as they were in 2001. Maybe next year…


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