Letters to My Twenty-Something Self

These letters are for my 21, and 22-year old self. They may end up mixed together, or separated. Who knows?

Dearest 21-year old Colleen,

Happy 21st! You’re not getting drunk, let alone drinking. Sure, it was planned. Mom and dad bought the drinks, but nothing really happens. You make a pizza, have some cake with Mark Darcy singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to you, but it’s really not that eventful. Your family is stuck in hellish Niagara Falls, while you are bombarded by thunderstorm after thunderstorm. If we skip ahead a few months, you’re getting your wisdom teeth removed. It’s not fun. You don’t recite the French sentence you made, because you are in so much agony that mocking your sister and her boyfriend is not worth it. Sure, all that weight you were trying to lose falls off, but it was not worth all the hell you went through. 

If that weren’t bad enough, two weeks later you get a nasty bout of the stomach flu. And it pretty much changes your eating habits. You pretty much are lactose-intolerant. And you now have acid reflux. But, it’s not all that bad. Continue to my letter for being twenty-two for the awesome.

A Letter to My 22-Year Old Self

Girl, you’re in Cape Cod and having the time of your life!! You think things cannot get any better. Beyond that awesome margarita you’re having, it can and will. In September, you will go to an interview at TJ Maxx, dressed in blue jeans and just not giving a shit. You get that job, while watching Season Three of Sex and the City. It’s hard work, but you like the people you work with, especially the English lady. You think your luck cannot get any better, and that is where you are 100% wrong. Online one day, you come across a message from a guy, whose message you almost delete. You strike up a conversation, and things grow from there. Bradley is a new experience.

On New Year’s Eve, he sets your heart aflutter with talk of coming to Littleton to ring in 2006 together. He doesn’t, but you guys plan a date. You’re going to see The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe and have dinner. His blue eyes have captivated your dreams, and he’s just the most handsome guy you’ve met in a long time. 

On your first date, you’re naturally nervous. You wonder if he’s some overweight bald man hellbent to rape you. You sit in the lobby outside the restaurant looking at a North Country guide, waiting for him to walk through the doors, when he comes up from behind. You put the guide back in the slot, and turn to look at him. Your first thoughts are about his eyebrows and how you’d love to wax them. Other than that, he dresses well, is freaking handsome, and he smells GOOD. You have a hard time taking off your coat because you’re so flustered, and put the single red rose he hands you into the sleeve of your coat on the coat rack while you eat dinner. Bradley gives you a journal he made specially for you, knowing how much you love to write. Presents are unnecessary, he’s already won you over.

Dinner was a flop. You both decide to walk around town, waiting for the movie theater to open. You walk into the bookstore, to show him the Art section, thinking because he’s arty he’d be interested. He’s not. You leave the store, and give him the sordid tale of the Opera House, and how the town is divided over its destiny. You blather on and on about it, all the while thinking about how you must be dreaming. As you walk back towards Dunkin Donuts, you look over at him, wondering if this is a dream. Because he’s sweet, good-looking, and smells really good. A woman looks at you from her car, and you wonder what she’s thinking about the two of you. Outside DD, you slip on a patch of black ice. Brad outstretches his arms to catch you, but you recover, cussing yourself out in your head.

Inside, the clerk looks at the two of you in such a way you’re wondering what she’s thinking. You look at Brad like he’s Zeus, and you’re just happy. The two of you talk about everything, and it’s time to go to the movie. You are so awkward. You immediately rush into the cinema, forgetting that things like sodas or popcorn exist. He excuses himself to the restroom. You’re suddenly feeling sick. He comes back, and you rush to the bathroom, thinking you’re going to throw up. You’re glad you don’t, and tell yourself not to be nervous. Don’t be. Bradley isn’t going to try anything. He whispers in your ear about spring, and you smile.

He drives you home, and meets your family. If I could tell you one thing, it’s: don’t. Your parents are angels, which totally throws you off. Your sister rushes over in her pjs to meet him, which is totally embarrassing. Mom totally saves you, and keeps the conversation flowing. Remember to love your mom so much more after this moment. Your parents and Megan leave you alone. He compliments your manicure, which you had done that morning just for his benefit. You can’t help but smell his scent. Like laundry and cologne combined. To this day, anything that smells like that, is an instant turn-on. He kisses you goodnight. BE IN THE MOMENT!!! That second kiss, it’s the only you’ve had, but it’s great. You don’t feel anything, but it’s a good first kiss. You don’t bump teeth or anything.

Your second date is great. You’re no longer battling a stomach virus, and your room is clean. He’s late, you eat Burger King and discuss child-rearing. You sit on the couch and watch a movie, leaving your limp fish hand available for holding. You notice he nods along with the movie, which you find cute. He still smells fantastic, and you kind of want to touch his hair, in a non-creepy way. After the movie, you show him your room. He sits on the bed, but you panic. Bradley is not trying anything, so relax. If I could say one thing to you, it’s to relax. Brad has given you no cause to think he’s going to violate your body. He suggests you go on a walk, and for some damn reason, you think he’s talking about going to Remich Park. DON’T BRING YOUR PURSE! Well, that’s what I would suggest if I were a time-traveling Timelord called “The Doctor”, but I am not.

You have some endearing quality to him. Because you start babbling, and he does something that gets you to shut up. He grabs your hand, and much like with Hanz, your hand bursts into heated prickles. He entwines your fingers together, rubbing circles in your palm with his thumb (I am getting actual prickles writing this). Your arms twist like a tree branches, and you walk to the end of the road. Another thing I would tell you if I were The Doctor is don’t worry if the neighborhood–or dad, sees you. You’re 22, it’s alright if you’re on a date. No one is judging you. Everything has changed in those fifteen minutes. You’re open now, your body language and attitude reflects that much. You now hold hands like your hands need to be fused for the future of mankind. Your mom sees this, and you don’t care. You apparently speak in some babyish tone, and laugh when your sister blushes meeting him for the first time.

Left alone with him for dinner. Dear God, make him some. I cannot stress this enough, Colleen. I can’t make you do this now, since it’s been six years, but never forget to offer the guy food. Sit on the large chair. Have him sit behind you, trace figure-8s on your back, lay his face on the base of your neck, and hold your hand. Let the time rush away, and get lost in the intimacy of this moment. Talk of another date, forget where the handle is on his door. Because it doesn’t last. He’s breaking your heart tomorrow. The fog has settled in, and the world ceases to revolve for the next eight months.

I would advise you to keep your opinions to yourself, but that would be lying. Patti sets you up with a great guy, but your disdain for religion ruins this. Let go and move on, which you do. You learned a lot from Bradley.


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