Questions For An Older Me

I think of a woman, sometimes. She is younger than my mother but older than my sister would be, if I had one. Sometimes, she is polished and strong and seems to be coated in something like Teflon or shatterproof glass. She wears suits—immaculate with pristine pin stripes, wrinkleless and taut like her cheekbones—and her hair is dark and smooth, and she has lovers but she doesn’t love any of them, really. I imagine that in the evenings, when she is done with corporate and important and serious things that require a complicated cell phone and high blood pressure, she takes off her clothes and scrutinizes herself in a mirror, and then slides into a tub of scalding hot water and holds a glass of wine to her forehead and sighs with both stress and satisfaction.

Other times, she is soft and mussed and torn a little around the edges, and she has laugh lines at the corners of her mouth and crow’s feet around her eyes. She wears old, faded sundresses that she probably owned in college and leather sandals that have molded to her feet, and she has messy, curly hair the color of the pale kernels near the top of an ear of corn. She has a boyfriend or maybe a husband who’s a writer, like her, and a house full of animals. In the evenings, they cook together, chopping and stirring and pouring and solemnly placing dabs of flour on each other’s noses; and they fall asleep holding hands.

This woman is wise. She knows about love and heartbreak and loss. She knows when to throw out old milk and how often you really need to vacuum and how to balance a checkbook. This woman knows things, and I want to ask her questions.

I want to ask her if, when I am her age, I will think about the boys I’ve been with: the ones I write off now as a drunken mistake or no big deal, the ones whose names will escape me in a few years or maybe even a few months. The ones I stumble home with and let clumsily struggle with the clasp on my bra, the ones I let awkwardly kiss and touch and sometimes fuck me, the ones whose beds I sneak out of in the morning, clutching my shoes in one hand as I silently shut the door. I want to ask her if I will regret these encounters, if I will find as I grow up that these boys have, at some point, slipped into my heart and dug out something that I will miss later. I want to ask her if I will remember the one who stands out among them now as the one who really broke my heart, or if I will have forgotten him too.

I want to ask her if, when I am her age, I will lament the things I’ve done, things that seem okay now because I’m twenty and wild and will surely grow up sometime but things that may nudge at my conscience later as unnecessary or unhealthy or bad. Things like throwing back ten shots in a night and dancing on tables until I’m dizzy, or smoking too much weed before dinner and laughing loudly and inappropriately in public, or making out with my best friend in the middle of a party. I want to ask her about the extent of the consequences of these actions: if they will end with a morning spent throwing up, a splitting headache and moment’s embarrassment, or if they will follow me as I grow up, turning me into the sad-eyed, middle-aged woman alone at the bar.

I want to ask her if, when I am her age, I will appreciate the effort I put into my work: if my GPA will matter, if anyone will care about the title on my diploma. If the all-nighters, fueled by caffeine pills and coffee and cigarettes will have any result besides fatigue and shaky hands and three extra points on a test; if the extra reviewing of essays will have been proof of a hard work ethic and integrity or of just slightly obsessive tendencies. I want to ask her if these things will have mattered—the extra points and lost hours of sleep—or if I will just wish I had had more fun and worried a little less. I want to ask her if these things will have gotten me a bigger office or a higher salary, or if these are things I even want.

I want to ask her if, when I am her age, I will have figured out how to clean my shower so that I don’t feel dirtier when I sit on the floor to shave my legs. I want to ask her where I will live—if my love affair with the South and its afternoon thunderstorms and cicadas and heat will have ended, if I will live in a small apartment in a city or a sprawling house with a lawn and trees. I want to ask her if I will have learned how to do my laundry so that my whites don’t end up blue. I want to ask her if my mother will still be my best friend. I want to ask her if I will love my job—if I will have a job. I want to ask her if she will know any of these answers. I have so many questions for her, but I suppose I’ll have to wait. TC mark

image – Katie Tegtmeyer

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Emily-Tugwell/1193606623 Emily Tugwell

    You are not alone in this. I constantly think about where I’ll end up and who I’ll be in the future.

  • Chase V

    damn. well done.

  • VLL

    What you regret: the times you disrespected yourself or let others do it to you.

  • Anonymous

    Maybe she’ll reply this one day, wishing she could tell you of all the places she’s been and all the things she wished she could have done.

  • Stellie Cat

    all your commas, and “and” are really distracting!
    boo, it seemed like a really interesting piece.

    • Abby

      Meh, you’re right about the commas. I’ll remember that next time, thanks!

  • http://twitter.com/DorryAlena Dorry Alena Funaki

    this is beautiful. I’m about to graduate from college, and I can relate. Now is a time of transition where you wish you could just fast forward and get “there” already. wherever there is. I’m trying to just enjoy the moment. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/nattusmith Natt Smith

    Can you ask her what I should have for lunch?

    • Abby

      Yes. She will tell you: a turkey sandwich with Doritos stuck inside. Alternately, Moes.

      • http://www.twitter.com/mexifrida Frida

        My favorite. She knows it all.

  • guest

    this was beautiful.

  • http://twitter.com/4shhhh whttrz

    I’m loving it

  • Thegirlwhofellasleep

    Nice. Nice nice nice. Niiiiiiiiice.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=707272007 Alex Thayer

    perspective is weird.  we can totally understand it, but it’s not something that we can ever fully empathize with.

    • askzx

      really? I completely empathize with it. I’ve wanted to write something like this for the longest time. 

  • http://www.nosexcity.com NoSexCity

    Really good, but I think the ending needed some rounding out.

  • jacq

    “I want to ask her if I will regret these encounters, if I will find as I grow up that these boys have, at some point, slipped into my heart and dug out something that I will miss later.” – beautiful! 

  • Cassieboorn

    Total plug here but you may enjoy some of these. http://cassieboorn.com/topics/20-something-self/

    Beautiful piece. 

  • http://staugustinian.wordpress.com/ STaugustine

    No matter what… good or bad, amazing or depressing…  it [The Future]  won’t be anything like you’re expecting. And the biggest question should be: will the You of the Future even *like* you? 

  • Danielle

    I really really loved this!

  • ...

    Perfection

  • Fuensanta100

    damn, this is are the kind of questions I make myself almost every day. Im 16, i think I´ll have to wait a little more.

  • Katherine

    This speaks to me so deeply. I often come back (usually after a fumbling encounter) to this article. Thank you so much. 

  • Katherine

    This speaks to me so deeply. I often come back (usually after a fumbling encounter) to this article. Thank you so much. 

  • MaddieMira

    Oh man. This was great to read. It makes me think so much about what I might be like when I’m older; in fact, I may end up writing my own version of this as a result of reading it XD

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