I shared my letter to my former self, now Rachel shares hers…
- Older brothers, although loud, sweaty and annoying, will protect your honor, pave the way for you with your parents and one day become the men of whom you are more proud than you can express.
- When your grandparents smother you with kisses and hugs and fawn all over you… When your maternal grandmother crochets sweaters, scarves and blankets for you and your paternal grandmother teaches you to bake coconut cakes and takes you shopping at Bamberger’s… When your grandpa takes you fishing on the Vineyard and your Pop introduces you to the music of Miles Davis, Benny Goodman and Dave Brubeck… When they tell you the stories of your familial history and remind you how important it is to act with integrity and the value of your reputation—CHERISH those moments! You’ll find those moments comforting for the rest of your life and you will be eternally grateful for having had the privilege of knowing such interesting and honorable people.
- Define yourself; don’t let others do it for you. I assure you that in 10, 15, 20 years and beyond, you won’t really care who thinks you aren’t black enough or that you talk too properly or that you must be stuck-up because you don’t want to go to the party. In your 30s, you will not remember their names—until they request to friend you on Facebook and you end up having to de-friend them or put them on privacy lock-down because they are entirely too interested in the minutia of your life.
- Enjoy carefree summers on Fire Island or the Vineyard while you can! Soon, between global warming, UV rays and obnoxious tourists, the summer sanctuary of your childhood will become a very, very different place. Enjoy digging for sand crabs and poking jellyfish with a stick as they will become stories of legend you will tell your children, nieces and nephews.
- Know the difference between friends and acquaintances. Acquaintances are people you know, you speak to regularly and you hang out with occasionally. Friends are people who know you—warts and all. You might speak to them regularly, but even if you don’t, you pick up where you left off as though no time has passed. Every truly great time in your life included or was the result of one of your true friends. Oh—VERY important: relatives can be some of your best friends ever.
- Trust your heart. When you get a bad feeling and something doesn’t sit well with you, go with it. Walk away knowing that your instincts are correct. Also, trust your heart when you walk into a room and meet someone whose presence makes your heart flutter and gives you a sense of calm at the same time. Trust your heart and believe in love and the fact that you deserve someone wonderful, honest, intelligent, funny, strong, honorable and handsome to boot!
- Be more of afraid of “I wonder what would’ve happened if I had…?” than “Oh… So THAT’S what happens!” It’s easier for me to know that I’ve made a mistake and learned from it than to constantly wonder what might have been.
- Beware Greeks bearing gifts—especially if the gift is an engagement ring and you know you have no business marrying this man and that the past several years together were made possible—in no small part—by plenty of ouzo and the bribery of his mother’s baklava.
- Give yourself a break! As long as you are still breathing and can walk and dig a whole, tomorrow is another opportunity to learn from, fix—or in some cases hide the mistakes you’ve already made.
- Do not believe that life in the year 2000 will be anything like “The Jetsons.” There will be no flying cars or robotic maids. The only moving sidewalks will be in airports and will largely be used to transport the laziest herds of sheeple from the Starbucks at Gate 3 to the Starbucks at Gate 5.
- Learn to laugh at yourself! If you cannot laugh at yourself then you really shouldn’t be laughing at anyone else. Be solemn and serious when you have to be, but enjoy the rest of life!
- Remember your first kiss and your first real crush! Save stupid things like the Pink Panther shorts you stole from him or the tissue he gave you when he wiped the tears from your eyes as you parted and said “À bientôt!” Years later you will laugh hysterically when you find the tissue in a ZipLoc bag and he will be flattered when you meet again and have his long lost shorts.
- Surround yourself with brilliant, beautiful, spiritual, kind, loving and forgiving people. Other people are not worth your time and effort and these people will contribute to your life in immeasurable ways.
Photo: Rachel (about 1 1/2 years old) and her brother Roland