Letter from Future Self

Angelica Braaten

Dear Angie in 2003,

You will have a birthday.
Your golden birthday.
Cherish it, write about it.
You will forget it if you don’t.

You will love school but you’ll also be
a little rebellious
You should probably stay
a “little” rebellious,
Nothing more.
I know it might be hard for a girl
who always follows the rules.
This will be the one year you do not like your English teacher,
but there’s always something to learn.
And you will read a play
that you will teach in ten years.
Maybe pay more attention.
So you can compare and contrast.
And if you don’t want to memorise the feel of benches,
you should practice more.

You will get to be a fish
in your backyard pool.
Enjoy it because while you are fifteen,
your parents will tell you that you are moving
to a different state
for the second time in your life.
Your brother will be enraged,
for good reason – he’s a junior.
You will not say anything.
Please say something.
You never have strong opinions
and maybe you should.
They will ask you how you feel.
You will cry in your room alone
trying to figure out how you feel.
Somewhere in the middle, always.
Maybe just say that.

At fifteen, you will move to Louisiana
Cross country.
The cat you’ve had for sixish years will disappear
right before you leave.
And this is when you will know the feeling of having
no closure.
Maybe this is when your obsession
with knowing the truth is formed.
Where did he go?

You will go to a new school
Experience culture shock.
You will be malleable clay
Wanting to fit into everyone’s hands
Shape yourself with your own hands.
You will be exposed to things
Only seen in movies.
You will need to figure out the balance
between being careful and being open.
Write about it.
You will forget it if you don’t.

At fifteen, your dad will give you the keys
to his truck on New Year’s Eve
and let you drive somewhere with your friend
even though you’ve never driven anywhere by yourself,
even though you don’t have a license?
You will put one foot on each pedal
and know you won’t die.
You will enjoy this freedom
and you will take advantage of it later.
Do not take advantage of it.

At fifteen, you will not live with your brother
for the first time in your life.
Too soon.
You will be happy for him,
you will be heartbroken.
It’ll be ok…you’ll live together again someday.
Not long after, you will no longer live with your grandma.
Not long after, you will no longer live with your dad.
Maybe make sure that’s what you want.
It will somewhat shape your future.
Write about it.
You will forget it if you don’t.

At fifteen, you will exchange “i love you” with some guy.
You will think you feel something like love.
Be careful,
many things feel like love at this age,
at the end of fifteen.

Angie in 2020


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

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