The other day I watched the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton (technically I don’t think anyone with access to cable TV or the Internet missed it). Like the rest of the world’s female — and some of the male — population, I was first taken in by her breathtaking Alexander McQueen wedding gown and her sister’s maid-of-honor dress. Then, as I watched, I became more swept up by the emotion, the romance, and the sweet intimacy that was so apparent between the bride and groom.
It all made me wonder what things would be like when I reach your age. At this stage of my life, I’m finally in what can be deemed a relatively normal relationship, I have a job that eats away at my self-worth but teaches me about survival, and I have a circle of friends, albeit a tiny one, that I actually am comfortable in. But it’s because of where I am now that I really want to know how it feels to be in your shoes, so that I can prepare myself to be in your shoes.
Ever since I moved back here, I’ve been able to dull, but never take away completely, the pain of everything I had lost or left behind. I remember telling Shirley at the airport in Buffalo that it wouldn’t be forever; I would find my way back there someday. I remember resolving to be my own boss one day; to do what it is I really love to do and not have to answer to anyone except myself. I remember vowing, after I realized that the one person I would have given up everything for would never want to do the same for me, that I would stop being idealistic and start being realistic in looking for love, so that I would never allow myself to become so vulnerable, so insecure, and so very, very stupid again (on this note, I would like to add that it would be nice if you’ve finally put some of your memories to rest, because dwelling on them, I’ve found, can really be very irritating).
I hope that of the three things I mentioned above, you would have been able to accomplish at least one. Did you ever make it back to New York, or perhaps even Europe? We always did talk about moving back to New York or London or Paris. Did you end up starting your own image consulting service, telling people to sit with their elbows off the table and hold their soup bowls facing out when they eat? Or did you finally meet that man, that wonderful man who is finally able to love you for who you are, regardless of your thinning hair, fluctuating waistline and penchant for profanity (actually I’d just like to know if it’s still the same man, just to save us both the trouble of having to start over with yet another one)?
How is your grandmother (the one you like)? Is she still alive, and if so, has it become any easier for you to see her? I remember when I first moved home, I couldn’t bear to visit my grandmother because she had changed so drastically while I was away that I couldn’t grasp the full effect of her condition until I saw her the first time. It’s been three years since then, but it’s still difficult for me to visit her because it only reminds me of how far she’s fallen from her more youthful, vibrant days, when she used to make me sing and imitate Audrey Hepburn’s Eliza Doolittle for her entertainment. It’s hard to talk to her because her Parkinson’s has stiffened her muscles so much that she doesn’t respond, so when I do talk to her I just tell her what’s been going on in my life, and hope that behind her blank, seemingly unseeing eyes, she can understand what I’m telling her. I hope you’re having an easier time with your grandmother, because while her body still soldiers on, I think her spirit has failed her, and more than anything she needs everyone around her to be strong for her.
As I write to you, I have the TV turned on to CNN, and I’m half-watching, half-listening to the news that Osama bin Laden is dead. People are celebrating as though his death has brought about the end of terrorism, the end of the wars, the end of human misfortune altogether. They don’t seem to understand that his death is merely symbolic — almost meaningless, even — and that if all the senseless violence going on in the Middle East, South Asia and Northern Africa is of any indication, the war against humanity is nowhere near being over. Meanwhile in my own country, the politicians and authorities are abusing their powers and taking away what little rights the civilians have, in order to better their own lots in life and fill their own coffers. It makes me wonder if any of it will change over the next five, ten, twenty years, if my own children will have a better, fairer life, free of the prejudices and discrimination that plague us right now. And even though you and I are just eight years apart, I like to think — quite unrealisitcally — that your world has set itself to finding some semblance of peace.
At the end of it all, I suppose it doesn’t really matter what you tell me today, because I don’t know you yet and you definitely will not remember me. I have a very bad tendency to go against everything that I have planned and that has been planned for me, so there is a chance that when we finally meet, eight years from now, I won’t even recognize you. I just hope that you made good on the last eight years and did what was right for yourself and those who mattered to you. And if you didn’t, then I hope I will make good on the next eight years and do what is right for myself and those who matter to me.
Inspired by Project FutureMe