Tag Archives: nostalgia

A Love Letter to a Younger Me

Recently, my friend N sent me a collection of letters I’d written to her the summer we were 14. Talk about cringe-worthy!

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Note: Bob the postman played along; our correspondence continued all summer!

One thing I learned was that my writing style hasn’t evolved much since my teens. That was a bit scary. Also, that I was completely boy-crazy, which did not come as a shock.

These were my major interests:

  • Trying to sort out what appealed to boys and which girls they liked.
  • The Mets baseball team (I had no memory of being such a fan) and the Beatles, especially George. (I was obsessed.)
  • Sailing and tennis lessons. I never got very good at either, but apparently had fun: “Sailing is terrific, but I almost capsized last lesson! It was a panic – I turned too far & we almost turned over. Boy! Was my sailing instructor MAD!”
  • Trying to ascertain whether a 16 year old could possibly be interested in a 14 year old. (Spoiler: We did get together the next summer.)
  • Bad boys in general: “Last year, K got stoned once on the golf course with O, & also got picked up (with O) for trying to steal a car!!!!” I had a major crush on K, who was gorgeous. (I’ve always been a sucker for a pretty face. But a guy who got stoned at 13? That was a surprise.)
  • Obsessing over whether I should say Happy Birthday to K: “Will he think I went to a lot of trouble to find out when it is? Or should I forget it? (We’ve known each other for 13 years.) I really don’t know. He might think I’m chasing him. And I’m not positive that’s his birthday. If it isn’t, he’ll think I like him (which I do, but he shouldn’t know, exactly.) If I don’t, he may think I’m stuck-up, or a snob. If I do, he might think I’m chasing him. What to do?????”
  • I wasn’t a complete airhead. I read a lot (in one letter, I recommend Huxley’s Brave New World) and played chamber music (cello) and chess. And I loved my summer science classes, especially when K and I were paired for dissection and swapped different fish parts on purpose to create two new species. OK, maybe that was less about science and more about the cute boy, but still….
  • Money went a lot further in the 60’s. I was paid $2.50 for 4 hours of babysitting three little kids.
  • I was a staunch Democrat: “J is such a jerk. He swears like anything. p.s. He’s for Goldwater!!!” (I was outraged.)
  • Boy-girl parties were a washout. Most of the boys wouldn’t dance.

As I was laughing, I developed a deep affection for this young teenager:

  • I was enthusiastic.
  • I was a good sport.
  • I was a loyal friend.
  • I had a sense of humor.
  • I loved to write.

So,

Dear 14-year-old Me:

You are a great kid. Some boys will like you. Some won’t. It will all work out; you have nothing to worry about. Develop your talents, try lots of new things, keep making friends, and enjoy the next few decades.

Oh, and you will always be obsessive; try to channel it constructively!

Love,

Older, Wiser, Adult Me

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Addicted to Books

Our current move has involved putting approximately 1000 boxes of books weighing approximately 1,000,000 lbs into storage: Art. History. Art History. Theatre. Theatre History. Obscure Writings on Theatre History… you get the idea.

Which prompts me to wonder if my Dear Husband and others like him should form a chapter of Book Buyers Anonymous.

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In fairness, DH’s library is much better organized!

DH navigates a bookstore or library the way I peruse the designer floor at Neiman Marcus or almost any bakery: eyes glazed, slack-jawed and bent double so as to read the title/label. It’s nearly impossible to leave empty-handed.

Like chocolate and expensive perfume, scent is part of the experience: dusty, musty old books exude an irresistible pull, as does the cottony, slightly acrid crispness of a new volume.

I used to share DH’s addiction but, much as I love to read, I don’t collect books the way I collect, say, shoes and bags. Once done, I almost never return for a second round of the same story. The library would be a perfect solution, except that I prefer the pristine quality of a new book to one that’s been handled by someone else. Hence, regular purchases of paperbacks, which can easily be recycled to friends, family or Goodwill.

But as a kid the library was my safe haven, especially during the summers we spent on Cape Cod, when I had endless hours to curl up with a book.

My childhood library was founded in 1875 and moved to its present stone building in 1913. It felt both vast and cozy. Also deeply welcoming, despite the looming presence of librarians who’d shush you if you happened to be giggling with a friend.

I loved the dark, dusty stacks, the wooden files of Dewey Decimal System reference cards (named for the proprietary library classification system first published in the United States by Melvil Dewey in 1876), and most of all the sense of anticipation that you’d find something wonderful to bring home.

Dickens. Austen. Nancy Drew – I was voracious and indiscriminate. And I still have anxiety if I have fewer than 3 books at the ready. Kindles have their place but I want to hold my book. (Sounds like a Beatles song, no?)

Anyway. For the time being DH’s beloved boxes are safe and snug, though I have recurring nightmares of the second floor of our soon-to-be-built new home caving in under the weight of all those invaluable tomes.

Maybe I should go bake something.