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a letter to my past august selves

Updated: Sep 12, 2023

Dear Past Lilirose,

Three years ago, you wrote a poem about autumn; yet it was mostly about missing home. It went, “the air smells like burnt letters and / grey skies, my heart aches too much i think / and i miss home the way / a teenager teetering on the edge of adulthood / misses their innocence-” How did you know that? Were you aware of the ways these lines would resonate with me, even three autumns & three bodies past? The only critique I have is that the dash should have been an em dash like this: —. This is probably not the letter you want, where your future self is marveling at a thirteen-year-old’s words & yearning for every season of life. This is also probably not the letter you expected, where your future self is neither dead nor wise beyond their years. Lower your expectations, love.

You located stretch marks on the uneven terrain of your body last week, and you were delighted because you never thought you would live long enough for them. You really enjoy going with your Mom to the local Raley’s to buy oranges, but you still get irritated whenever she spends too long in your room. You dream about the juncture of a girl-who-lives-across-the-country’s neck and you haven’t texted her back in three days. Your vision has gotten worse. Your friends have gotten gentler. Your prayers have gotten blessings.

There are two really big truths in life: 1. Ma was right—a cup of tea always helps. (I recommend raspberry leaf tea, which is a great colour.) 2. Everything will change.

I mean this in ways both good and bad. Let’s start with the negatives; it’s bad because we inherently fear change. This summer, you go to a residential two-week summer program & have what you call “an honestly low-key very chill panic attack” in your empty dormitory. You heave for breath on your crinkly navy blue assigned bed. It’s your first time in a community full of writers & your first time away from home for an extended period of time without your Ma, and you are not doing well. The Ohio skyline laughs at you. Streamlined clouds & oak leaves peer at you from outside the window. Every time you rewrite a poem you still feel sick to your stomach. All those poor innocent darlings, slaughtered under your hand to create a new and better piece. You’re still in a friendship you said you would end two years ago. Last week you went to their house & doom-scrolled on Instagram together.

But an instrumental thing you will learn as you age is that fear is not inherently negative. Because you are so afraid of losing your friends, you slip your hands into theirs & affix matching pins onto your tote bags. You whisper secrets like you’re girl-best-friends in second grade & you nap next to each other like you’re two-cats-under-sunlight. When you return home this summer, you redecorate your room one last time before senior year. Unaddressed postcards & tattered calligraphy & rip-off polaroids. The summer program was life changing & you are pretty certain of what you want to major in (spoiler alert: it’s English). You call yourself a poet without hesitation. Because you are so aware that every moment is so fleeting, you love each moment all the more.

And perhaps even more importantly: I know you are miserable today. I know you were miserable yesterday, and the day-before-yesterday, and the day-before-the-day-before-yesterday, and so it goes on. That too is temporary, love. Home changes, as everything does. The unhappiness is not inherent to you. You are yourself and your consciousness, and your feelings will pass. It all passes. & I will be waiting here, at the end of it all.


August 2023 Lilirose


Editor(s): Blenda Y., Chelsea D., Uzayer M. Photo Credits: Unsplash


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