A letter from the past

mariacha's picture


<--Me at 14. My grandparents dressed me up in a kimono they bought in Japan.


October 11, 1994, I wrote myself an entry in my journal sealed "To be opened at 30." Today, on my 32nd birthday, I finally remembered to open it. Here's what my 14-year-old self predicted of my future, followed by my response to her.

Hello, Maria. Now you are at least 30. That means it is 2010 or later.

I got the Idea for this letter from Northern Exposure yesterday. I think it's a good Idea, so I stole it.

30 huh. That means I've still not lived half of my life. I hope I still hate it when people say "Time sure flys." It doesn't fly, it creeps. Actually, maybe it only creeps to me because I spend so much time waiting for my time to come. Either that's happened by the time I read this again, or it never will. Either I'm married, or I have a bussiness. Either I maintained my 120lbs or I exploded. Either I'm happy, or I'm miserable. The following is what I want to happen.

I finished Highschool. Angela, Ann and I split up there. We tried to stay in touch, and I even went to Ann's wedding, but Angela went of to Europe and I lost track of them both before I graduated from college.

I attended a Jr. College of the church. If I didn't meet my hubby there, I went on to BYU to become an engineer. I received good grades and met my husband, a return missionary, in my senior year. It was love at first sight. I took on a job near SLC soon after graduating. After my husband and I had decided where to live and how to get our money, we are married and move to the designated place. It will be a small city, no larger than Sheridan, where we will be able to raise our 3-7 children without too much worry. The youngest is not born yet, but at least 2 are. I spend my time raising them, cooking sometimes, and working at church callings.

Now for the family. Mom lived in the Sheridan home for a while until I was situated. Then she turned the whole house into a huge fabric shop. Downstairs is where she sells things, upstairs is piles of material that she will "get to someday." People often shop there because she doesn't charge much and she gives great advice. She's quite active, judging by her sister and mother's longevity. She took many courses at night in college and can now say "Children are such tyrants" in 17 different languages.

Dad and Trudy putted around until Dad had a heart attack at 58. He isn't nearly as active now.

Gramma lived just a few more years. In fact, the last I saw her was at my graduation. Trudy was taking care of her. She got her wish and was never put in a rest home. Grampa lived to 90. He was quite active until about a month before he died. Then he had a stroke suddenly and went very quickly.

Jared was married soon after he got out of college to a nice girl who spoils him terribly. Their first child, James, was just given the priesthood. The total equals 5 bouncing children for Mom to call grandkids from his division. He's living in a suburb on the West coast where he surveys land.

Aaron never got married, but just sort of roamed around the country doing various jobs. Then one day he discovered how to make cleaner that repels dirt and made millions.

Now I must leave me, for, unlike you, I have seminary in the morning.

--Maria Chantrill


Hi Maria,

I never forgot about this letter, but it took me two years to open it. Somehow the time never seemed right. That's something you'll learn as you grow up: time does eventually go by more quickly, but that doesn't mean you have to be in a rush.

It amuses me that you say this is what you want to happen, like you're outlining your castles in the sky. Why so practical? Why not foresee years studying in Europe, or a stint as a singer, or a writer, even a failed one? Are you now, at 14, already so practical, so unwilling to be wrong, so afraid of looking foolish?

I remember you now, as you are, in that tiny town you describe as a "small city." You don't know it, but you're incredibly lonely. You have two good friends for most of your young life. TWO! So few people and so few ways to reach out, you will begin to think you will can only be happy when alone.

No wonder you write so long of your family, people whom you rarely see, who even now don't live with you. I won't spoil it for you, but your family members will surprise, delight, and disappoint you. There are painful things there, and there is joy. But this is the way of family.

Your vision of me is entirely based on the view you have of the adults you see in your religious interactions. These are the families who seem to be happy, but I have to tell you, there are a lot more ways of living your life than the Mormons let you see. You don't get along with your fellow Mormons now, and you never will. You will find it a complete relief to leave the culture of guilt, judgment, and small-mindedness they represent.

In their place there will be friendship. There will be the support of a kind, honest, and ribald man, whom you love dearly. There will be games and puzzles and music. And there will be alcohol. (Don't be afraid! You CAN drink without becoming an alcoholic.)

So has my time come, as you suggest it must have by 30? Well, I feel like there are dreams here still to be lived. But I've loved and been loved. And that's really all your dreams, there in that small world, amount to.

Now go to sleep. You've got seminary in the morning, and I'm getting up to run in the wee hours long before dawn.

We've both got places to go.

--Maria Fisher

Blog Category: