Birthday, 5-year-letter

Thanks to everyone who wished me a happy birthday this year! I’m the worst about remembering birthdays, so I appreciate all the kindness from others.

Here’s a special thank you to the lovely Nikki Grey, who brought me a chocolate cake from Firehook, my favorite D.C. bakery:

I’d also like to say happy birthday to my colleague Peter, who might actually be my long lost twin. He turns 23 tomorrow. Oddly enough, we were born in the same hospital within two days of each other, so there’s a good chance we were separated at birth. Don’t believe me? Have a look for yourself and decide:

As I mentioned a month ago, my mom recently received my five-year letter in the mail. At the end of my senior year of high school, my economics teacher had each of his students write themselves a letter, which he promised to send to us in 2011. I was 17 at the time, so the majority of the letter was about my boyfriend and social life. My mother just forwarded the letter to my D.C. address, and while many parts of the note are highly embarrassing, the giddiness still warms my heart a little.

It’s funny that I felt the need to label the pictures of my friends, as if I’d seriously forget their names. I couldn’t wipe my memory of those girls in 1,000 years, much less five. Some of these ladies proved closer than others, but we’re all on good terms now. I still chat with Lauren, Crystal, and Nikita all the time.

It’s been a while since I contacted Katherine, with whom I spent much of my senior year. We often chanted pop songs in her red Dodge Durango, much to the chagrin of her boyfriend Brian and Crystal. Katherine and I made music videos, were inseparable in history class and at lunch, had photo shoots, attended dances together, and hosted dance parties. It’s been far too long since we’ve caught up.

Laura and Kat, 2006

Thankfully, I recorded her parents’ home address in my letter. If they still live at that house, I’m sure they’ll send her my note. Oh yeah, and there’s that whole thing called Facebook, but it simply doesn’t seem like the best means to reach out to an old friend.

I’m not totally sure when we stopped talking regularly, but I think that happened sometime during my sophomore year of college. We led different lives, hers in the bay area and mine in southern Arizona. I loved her regardless. Last I checked, she’s dating an exceptional guy from Cal Poly SLO. You can’t go wrong there.

Then there’s Brittany, the nicest person I’ve ever met.

A pastor’s daughter, people often had preconceived notions about Brittany, who wanted nothing but to bring happiness to those around her. Brittany had a great deal of patience and would listen to me vent when the repetitive nature of my problems began to irritate other friends. She said whatever she could to cheer people up, even when there was simply nothing to smile about.

Hours before my dad lost his battle to cancer, I informed Brittany that there was no way my father would make it through Friday.

“If you remain positive, he’ll pull through,” she said, leaning against a wall.

“Brittany, he lost his speaking ability last week,” I said, laughing at her wishful thinking. “He’s rejecting the breathing tube. I appreciate your kind words, but you just have to accept that it’s over.”

Ever the optimist, Brittany couldn’t let me believe that death awaited. She wasn’t about to have that conversation. Perhaps she wasn’t ready for it, or she just didn’t want to discuss bad news. Either way, I couldn’t stop myself from smiling at her certainty that everything would work out in my favor. Where did she get these ideas? Because of Brittany, I could smile and giggle the day I lost the person I loved most in the world.

“I know he’ll conquer this. He’ll live,” she said. “We’ll just have to keep praying.”

“Sure,” I said, shaking my head. I’d stopped praying for his survival months earlier.

At 11:30 a.m., I charged out of my student government class, yanked Brittany from her math class, and explained that my dad had crossed over. My brother broke the news via text message because I’d given him explicit instructions not to tell me over the phone. I wanted to read it, not hear it. Brittany was the first person with whom I shared the tragic news. She apologized dozens of times for being wrong and “giving false hopes.” For the second time that morning, I giggled.

“Frankly, I never believed you,” I said. “But thanks for saying it anyway.”

In April 2011, Brittany text messaged me for the first time in years. She’d just run into my ex-boyfriend at church. Though I hadn’t spoken to him in a long time, my first question for Brittany was, “So is he with a girl?”

“Nope. He’s standing beside his mom,” she said.

He has a major presence in my five-year letter. These pictures are cheesy, I know, but you have to admit they’re sweet for bright-eyed teenagers:

In my five-year letter, I predicted the two of us would break up. High school sweethearts split, shocker of the century right?! That came as no surprise to either of us. We willingly stayed together for the first year of college but needed to move on after that. It’s just too bad I encountered so many jackasses in the aftermath. Why did I date a quality guy so early in life and put up with cads afterward?

In my five-year letter, I ordered my 22-year-old self to call him regardless of our stance. I’m not sure whether I’ll listen to the love-struck teenager in me, but I wish him the best nonetheless.

The letter was boyfriend and friend-heavy, but it also delved into some of my own issues. I’ve transcribed a section below:

Thursday June 6, 2006

Hello Laura. You should be about 22 now, so you can finally drink! Not that you can even handle it. If you went according to plan, you should also be graduating college. Or did you slack off and take longer than four years to get out of Arizona? Tsk tsk…

By the way, I’m super nervous about going. Did I follow through with the school, meet new friends, stick to creative writing and have a blast? Things do change, so I won’t hold it against you if something happened.

I won’t re-write the entirety of the dramatic final sentence, which begs me not to “lose the love of my life.” I’ll tell you one thing: The loves of my life are my friends. Don’t make me quote Carrie Bradshaw here, but basically I will never say anything like that again until I’m married. Like I wrote in a previous blog entry, I essentially thought I was Bella from “Twilight” in high school. To be fair, I had a lot going on senior year, so my buddies and significant other took my mind off the awful things going on at home.

With regards to the “me” part of that letter, I’m both proud and underwhelmed by how little I expected of myself. The self-doubt is almost more than I can take. For one, I assumed I’d still be coasting through the University of Arizona upon first reading the letter. At the time, I was afraid to even admit to myself that I had big writing dreams. I wanted to write a book back then, but had only published a few articles. I didn’t totally believe in myself yet. I’m thrilled to say that has changed.

I’m also happy to report that my relationships with Nikita, Crystal, and Lauren have remained strong. We’ve had our disagreements and falling outs over the years, but always crawled back to each other. From January to May 2011, I wasn’t speaking to one of these women in particular. We’d had a blow out argument and ended all communication. At least once a week, I dreamed of her. I constantly dreamed that we had resolved our petty argument, only to wake up and remember that I’d torched that bridge and fled the scene.

For the longest time, apologizing wasn’t an option. I couldn’t imagine coming to terms with the fact that I’d been wrong. I’m not sure what did it, but I groveled around Memorial Day. She was sorry too. I’m in a much better place now that we sorted out the pointless dispute. I won’t do that again, as I cannot live without her.

Pretty soon, I’m going to get started on my next five-year letter. I’m aiming much higher this time. At age 28, I hope to have written for the New York Post and/or Gawker Media, purchased a one-bedroom apartment in D.C. or New York City, penned a David Sedaris-esque memoir about my goofy childhood, dated at least one non-douchebag, purchased a Pomeranian, met Ke$ha and Bill O’Reilly, had lunch with David Sedaris, and appeared on “The View.”

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