Happy 16th birthday! Only 30 days until you get your license. Don’t worry – mom will let you drive her convertible. And you already know you’re getting your own car because there is nothing mom would like more than having someone else pick your sister up from gymnastics. So you’re all set on the car situation. Enjoy the 87 cents per gallon gas while you can.
Here are a couple other things you should know: 1) your zits may seem magnified to you, but 99 percent of the time nobody else is really noticing them. 2) You should skip that whole episode where you major in psychology your first year of college. You’re a writer. Just BE a writer and then you can skip that god awful stats class.
The real reason I’m writing is to tell you all about your 41st birthday because you are not going to believe what you think is fun in the future. I know that it’s really hard to imagine even being 41. Here’s the deal – you have some wrinkles, a weird brown spot on your cheek and much better hair (although there are some greys in there, which sucks). You can also buy any shoes you want at any time. So all in all it’s a fair trade.
The good news on your 41st birthday is that your kids are old enough to go downstairs and watch TV for a while so you can sleep in. And by sleep in I mean get up at 7:45 and take a shower with no one else in the bathroom. This is a fantastical thing on a Saturday morning. You’ve got a busy day ahead because you and your husband are loading up the kids and going to pick up the second load of furniture you bought from an estate sale on Friday. You’ve just invested in your first vacation rental property and your husband, who reads CraigsList like you read Harry Potter, has found the mother of all estate sales with exactly the kind of furniture you would want to buy. What is CraigsList you ask? Who is this Harry Potter? You’ll have to find that out on your own.
Since you have to take two cars to the estate sale anyway you’re going to divide and conquer. You’ll get the Panera breakfast sandwiches and your husband will get the Starbucks and you’ll meet at the estate sale. You will consider this an outstanding start to the day. You’re going to spend a couple hours loading up furniture into your horse trailer (hold your questions please) and then it will be time for you to head over to your middle daughter’s roller skating party. Even though you are using your birthday to celebrate an 8 year old’s birthday, you are actually kind of excited about it because you will love roller skating. You’re not as good at it anymore, but you still like it. This statement also now applies to water skiing and staying up past 10 pm.
The roller rink is a total throwback to your 6th grade skating party days and you notice that all the parents seem to be having just a tad more fun than the kids, who don’t actually know how to roller skate. As much as you’d like to start cruising the rink to the dulcet tones of the J. Geils Band, you will spend most of your time skating with your 4 year old daughter, who will hold your fingers so tightly that they will turn purple. In the middle of the skating party you will have to leave to drive your oldest daughter to a dance workshop. Then you’ll head back to the skating party for a piece of pizza and roller skating limbo, which you will not even attempt.
When the skating party is over you will have about an hour to kill before you have to go back to the dance studio to see the dances the girls have learned in this weekend’s workshop. So you and two out of three of your daughters (yes, you will have three children and they will all be girls) go home to watch TV and have a snack. You will have to set a timer because once you sit down you will fall asleep and if you miss the sneak peak at dance you will be dead. Ooops! Sleepy time’s up! Back in the car, over to the dance studio. You will watch your daughter – who looks exactly like you, by the way – perform a beautiful dance that you can’t believe she learned in what amounts to about six hours. Her grown upness will bring tears to your eyes and you will not mind for one minute the endless trips back and forth to the studio, the long competitions or the constant dancing in the living room because it is her passion, and if it’s her passion then it’s your passion. (Only not in that weird, living-vicariously-through-your-children way. More in the you’re-just-so-proud-and want-to support-her kind of way.)
After just 15 minutes of sitting down at the dance studio you will, again, be back in the car, heading over to your new vacation rental to unload the rest of the furniture. While the girls play dance school in the empty dining room, you and your husband will schlep bed frames, mattresses, dressers, mirrors and lamp shades into the house. It really doesn’t take that long, and all those days mom woke you up to help rearrange the living room will pay off because you are freakishly strong for your size.
By the time the trailer is unloaded you will be tired and starving, and since it’s your birthday and you get to pick dinner you will decide to head to Hacienda. Yep, that Hacienda. Same one you and your friends used to order carryout bags of chips and salsa from. (And here’s another note from your 41-year-old self: at 16 you are not eating those chips and salsa. I don’t know why. You should start. Yes, that salsa is, in reality, not even actually salsa. But for some reason it is strangely addicting and you’re wasting a lot of years not enjoying the Hacienda chips and salsa.) When your family gets the waitstaff to sing their dumb birthday song to you and put a sombrero on your head for dessert, you won’t even mind because part of the fun is looking like a dork.
Back at home, pajamas on, the whole family will flop down to watch TV and you will fall into a near-coma state by 9:45 pm.
When you wake up from the couch to actually go get into bed you will feel that this has, strangely, been one of the most fun birthdays you can remember.
Your friend and self,
P.S. This letter is not a joke.
P.P.S. Don’t be afraid, you don’t become this lame overnight.