Sunday, 25 January 2015
Dear 80 year old me...
Get your glasses. (They're on your head, you silly old dear.) It's you. 23 year old you. Hullo. How many antique books do you have now? Did you ever get a white Bichon Frise and call it Margaret? Can you still cartwheel?
I imagine that sometimes you look in the mirror with a mournful sigh and say 'when did I get so bloody old?' I imagine you yearn for your youth: for the buoyancy of your breasts, for the blissful, staggering naivety which had you believe you could do absolutely anything, for the way in which the whole world felt bursting with opportunity and the years ahead felt like a blank canvas waiting to be splattered with the remarkable, for the fifty years you had stretched out before you. Let me tell you something Kathy B; those wrinkles on your face are a greater blessing than you will probably ever appreciate. You are old because you have lived, you've fucking lived (HURRAH!), and to have lived and to have been given the opportunity to love and laugh and think and feel for so long...Well, that is the greatest luxury of all. Embrace your twilight years. Never doubt how lucky you are to still have air in your lungs.
If you have Grandchildren...Woah. I never thought that was going to happen. You really have surprised yourself there. Treasure them with your entirety. Look upon them and smirk at me, me, the you of 2015, who is a) slightly lacking in maternal prowess...(by slightly, I mean significantly), and b) fiercely adamant that children are 'just not an aspiration of mine'. Laugh at how very wrong you were. Be the Grandma to them that your Grandma was to you. Build them forts. Let them stay up late eating crackers. Pretend that their hideous rendition of that hideous song that you totally hate is the most beautiful thing you have ever heard.
Wear elasticated pants. Elasticated pants are good for the soul. And for big bottoms. I'm really looking forward to the elasticated pants.
No one ever flourishes from dwelling on the things they could have been or should have been or might have been. Accept that mistakes are an integral part of the human experience. If you can put them right, and you want to put them right, then go ahead, put them right. But otherwise, just suck it up. Do your best with whatever it may be. Whenever you're feeling glum, anaesthetise yourself with a bloody good book and some marmite toast. I feel as if these two things will have always served you well and will continue to serve you well until the very end.
Be affectionate. Youth don't have a monopoly on that stuff, you know. I think your heart is best worn on your sleeve. It always has been. Cuddle people. Tell people how wonderful they are. Never be bitter that you are old and others are not; choose kindness, use your experiences and your wisdom to do good. And did I say cuddle people? Cuddle people with boundless enthusiasm. CUDDLING IS BRILL. OKAY?
Always end the day with a jaunt under the night sky. I'm confident that the mad scattering of stars and darkness above you will be as beautiful to you now as it was to you at 23.
I really hope you've achieved all of the things that you so desperately want to achieve as I write this. Please keep writing. It will stop you from going insane, if you haven't already. And one day, somebody just like you might stumble across your written memoirs or your blog and think 'WOW, this is an insight into life 100 years before I was born! Whaaaat? Unicorns were real? A hearty Macarena was the best way to start the day? Calf hair grew 3FT LONG?' Creativity will always mean something to someone, and most importantly, it will always mean something to you, at least I think it will. I can't imagine a version of you who doesn't have a pen on standby. So just write. Write until your fingers are crooked and cracked and bleeding. Write until you have achieved a lifelong page of pensive scrawls. Please very much.
If you still haven't visited the sea of stars, and you're still fit enough to go and visit them... GO. GO. GO! And if you still haven't finished that bloody book that you started 60 years ago... Erm, let's just accept that it's probably not going to happen. Albert Carter was a terrific man inside that head of yours. At least you got to enjoy him, even if the rest of the world didn't.
I hope that you've collected fond memories and embarrassed yourself in public far more than any human should. I hope you've experienced wonderful things and wonderful places and wonderful people and love, world-changing love, the kind that blew your mind and made you feel infinite.
I hope you've treated yourself to a fabulous armchair, a really fabulous armchair.
Never stop cracking shit jokes or bursting into spontaneous song. Both pursuits filled your day-to-day youth with joy. Don't waste too much time watching TV. Eat broccoli and move those limbs now and again. Your health is your wealth.
Most of all, remember that your life isn't over until it's over. There's still time to rediscover your perfect cartwheel.
Yours (somewhere in that head of yours...A very long time ago),
23 year old you x