To the Goddess at Age 18…

Bedfellow in Mexico

Originally uploaded by dcwriterdawn

Dear Self of December 1992,

Congratulations! You’ve just finished your first semester of college. It will become a university in about 15 years, so I’m glad you’re enjoying the very small classes, close relationships with your journalism professors, and friendships that will last, in one form or another, for the next 20 years.

Right now I know you can’t wait to work for The New Yorker and move into the chic loft apartment you plan to buy in SoHo. I can see the stars in your eyes as you dream about writing your trashy romance novels on your Smith-Corona word processor. (Oh, how I wish I could warn you that you will lose all of the data on your disks. Use the Mac lab instead!)

I know you plan to be a high-powered career woman, with lovers all over the world and no one who really holds your heart. Well, maybe you love them all … as deeply as you can, in as many different ways as there are lovers to be loved. In fact, that might be the only expectation you have right now that comes true.

Oh, self. If we could have chatted in that soon-to-open Starbucks on Liberty Avenue in Pittsburgh, the things you would have learned. Even if you never would have believed them.

1. Get out of Pittsburgh as soon as you can. You will wait till you’re 28. Better late than never, but you know that there’s no room for a recent college grad — yes, you WILL graduate! late, but you’ll do it — and you will never look back.

You don’t look back too often. You can be a little bit cold and hard in that respect. But it will serve you well in your career.

About that…

2. It will be a mess, it will be all you have and you won’t be doing anything remotely close to what you expected. I wish I could tell you that you will live a glamorous life. It will have its moments of luxury and grandeur. You will work too hard for too many years for too little pay. And then one day you will live in a tropical paradise, making three times what you did when you moved to D.C. (And you will settle for far too little in this world, just FYI.)

You will work on your novels here and there. You’ll stop writing poetry because you stop believing that you’ll find love. You’ll despise being on the computer (yes, you’ll own one. Several, even!) because your mother moves in with you (yep. Sorry about that. Can’t lie to you. Might as well jump off the Smithfield Street Bridge now, Goddess) and hovers constantly.

You’ll still be writing though. Grant applications under CEOs’ names. Cheesy newsletter articles with no byline. Mental health articles under your own byline. Financial articles under everyone’s name but yours. And a whole lot of daily/weekly updates to anal-retentive superiors, time analyses, behavioral documentation of unruly employees, and other butt-kissing maneuvers to save your job. Glad you went to school to become a professional writer — you’ll need everything you learned to make everyone else look good.

3. And for God’s sake, DON’T BLOG. Well, I know you’re rebellious and will have one anyway. 🙂 Just know you’ll get shitcanned for it in 2004 and then be enjoyed for it at your next job. And you’ll rise to executive positions and you probably SHOULD kill it. But it’s your one creative outlet. Until you write those books. Whenever that will be.

4. Trust no one. No, not them. And ESPECIALLY not them. Well, your Ye Olde Workplace Establishment peeps are the shit. God will give you five glorious years with people who worship you and coin your “Goddess” nickname. Everyone else is out there to use and abuse you. You will walk a fine line between being the smartest person in the room with the million-dollar ideas, and the person who does her damndest to get off the radar because those ideas aren’t good enough unless they come out of someone else’s mouth. You will learn to take pleasure in not being yelled at/demeaned/publicly excoriated.

The worst part: You will keep a thousand ideas to yourself because you start to doubt your own abilities. I shudder to think of how much worse off the world is without what you are looking so forward to contributing to it.

People will push you to the edge with a pitchfork. They will make you dance the plank and laugh at your expense. And you will do it, too, in the name of keeping that lifestyle you will come to enjoy. I wish I could say you’ll be rich and that it will all be worth it. But I can’t. You just have to try to rise above it all … forgive yourself when you can’t … and stock up heavily on the red wine you will come to love so much.

Brace yourself now, baby. It ain’t easy.

But it’s not all bad…

5. You will see the world. And love it. OK, so at twice your age now, you still haven’t seen Paris. But you will. Next year, we hope. If we can just keep ourself gainfully employed, we have a plane ticket to Dublin and Paris in March.

You’ll see Canada (twice) and Mexico in a six-month span. You will have visited 20 states in three or four years. Not bad for a girl who was stuck in Pittsburgh for three decades, eh?

And forget those shitty, cheap hotels. Baby, there’s a corporate Amex with your name on it. Use it!

6. It ain’t New York. But a condo on the ocean doesn’t suck, either. You’ll live in five states. Eventually you’ll wake up to a water view that isn’t simply courtesy of an upgraded hotel room. (Although those are nice, too!)

7. Your heart will never be broken if you don’t let it. You probably won’t even have a notion of the concept of “making love” till about 2010. I know you’re being a little ‘ho right now, and you probably won’t ever truly give that up (except for that weird celibate period you go through when you’re too overworked to date). But maybe someday you’ll have both love and lust at the same time.

You’ll meet a guy who wishes he married you instead of someone else. You’ll see him on this crazy new platform called Facebook someday and feel that same old pang that, in his words, he “didn’t meet you first.”

But you’re a gal with a passport who doesn’t have time to mourn. You’ll date millionaires and stay in the poshest of accommodations; you’ll date younger guys and remember why you hated dating that age group when you WERE that age; you’ll have conversations and experiences with people you worship, or who worship you, and maybe a little of both if you’re paying attention.

And on the rare occasion you’re at home, you’ll reconnect with people who had the potential to be special “back then,” who still are and become even more so now.

In any case, you’ll grab life by the balls and do it on YOUR terms.

Your future isn’t anything like you thought it would be, Goddess. Many days, you’ll feel like you’re finished. But I have a sneaking suspicion that your 54-year-old self would tell you that you haven’t even gotten started yet, not even at 36 …

2 Responses to To the Goddess at Age 18…

  1. Silver Blue :

    I spend far to effin much time on Facebook. After reading this post, the first thing I looked for was the “LIKE” button. LOL. Happy Holidays, Goddess. May you continue to rock my world as you did when we met (Tink, Roxette Bunny, and oh, pardon me for a second… Silver Blue (Circa November 2003)? That trollop you’ll be dating when you meet the Goddess at her Apartment warming is nothing but a fake, a phony, a liar, and a slut. Dump him while you still have some self-respect left, ‘k?).

  2. The Goddess :

    I clearly need to install “like” buttons for the comment section, too! Hugs to you, SilverBlue. We may not always make the best decisions, but at least we’re still damn good-looking!