Dear Fifteen

Gayle Sands

Sit down, sweetheart.
You are not going to BELIEVE
 the things I have to tell you!
I am going to just sum it all up—
You are going to make more mistakes
 than you can even imagine.
But those mistakes are going to turn you into a very interesting senior citizen.

You will cuss.  A lot.  Probably more than you should.

Those plans you have?? HA!!!
Plans are made to be changed.

It will take three colleges to get your BA in a major you won’t use and date a much older man and find out that’s no good and grow up and move away and have a good job you hate and meet a guy that your mom hates and marry him and have one child and then twins (not a smart move, by the way) and, oh, yes—there’s a recession that messes everything up and you get around to teaching at forty and you finally have a job you love and then your kids will grow up and move out. You will be a very bad housekeeper.

And all of this required a lot of cussing.
Even before 2020.
(We won’t even talk about that—you wouldn’t believe me, anyway.)

So here is my advice, fifteen. Take it step by step.
Every decision and every mistake you make
 will teach you a lesson.
Learn from them.
Mix it up.
Make a different mistake every time.
(You were really good at the mistake thing in the seventies.)
Throw in a few good decisions now and again
just to keep it interesting.
(That guy your mom hated is a keeper, by the way.)
Love your people, get a lot of pets, and keep your weight down.
Your knees will thank you.

And a couple of cuss words will always clear the air.

You have a heck of a ride ahead, fifteen…


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Bridge the Distance: An Oral History of COVID-19 in Poems Copyright © 2021 by Gayle Sands is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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