Letter#2: Very Important Advice

Dear Aglet,

This morning, as I sat drinking the watered-down concoction the cafeteria likes to call coffee, I was struck by this thought, a thought I thought important enough to record here for your sake. Ready, here it is: When I am old, I won’t be young anymore.

I know, I know. Profound. As you read this, I would imagine you are thinking one of two things: either “Wow, Grandma Jo got a lot wiser when she got old,” or the opposite of that. I can read your mind, sonny. “This makes so much sense about how she is now…”

The reason I thought of this is, well, I don’t know what made me starting thinking it. Whatever. I was just thinking that someday I won’t look young like I do now. Old people are pretty in a different sort of way. My friends won’t look young and pretty and handsome either. We’ll all be judged on a different scale–by how we act and whether we have the wisdom of years.

Obviously, your grandma has some growing to do on that last point. Hahaha.

What was I saying? I keep distracting myself with funny thoughts. Will I be like that when you know me, I wonder?

“What is Grandma Jo laughing about?”

“Oh, something she did/said/thought amused her.”

“But it’s been a whole two days since then!!”

I like my sense of humor because it can turn my life into this running sit com, full of mishaps and ridiculous misunderstandings that seem, at the time, world-ending. I get mortified easily, but give me a couple days and I can’t stop laughing about whatever the mortifying thing was.

Like the time I felt called to defend the honor of my father’s mustache. It’s a long story, but it culminated with me half-yelling at the offensive person that, “when he gets to be my dad’s age, his facial hair will probably look bad too!”

It was a terrible comeback, one of my worst yet.

I did eventually apologize, but in the interim I would think about it and just laugh at how ludicrous the whole thing was.

Facial hair (somehow!) reminds me of what I wanted to say in the first place. I wish that people my age could see one another in the future. I think it would give us all a lot more humility if we could a). look in the mirror at our fifty-year-old selves, and b). realize we look no better/worse than any other fifty-year-old.

Future grandmas and future granddads, if they could see each other’s seventy-year-old selves, wouldn’t place as much stock on what their twenty-year-old selves looked like. One of these days, I will not be young, and even when I smile, it won’t look quite the same. Boys will begin balding, and eventually we should probably all stop wearing flip-flops and shorts.

That’s okay.

None of that mattered in the first place. And even though I slip into thinking it matters now, what matters is whether people commit to loving each other beyond years and beyond appearance.

The most beautiful elderly couples I’ve seen aren’t beautiful simply because they’ve stuck together for all these years. The best ones are the ones who still treat each other as if they are precious and beautiful. They were never thinking of their outsides when they fell in love with the beauty of something inward.

Till next time, Aglet.
Your Grandma, Jo.

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Letter#1: In Which Aglet Learns Who He Is

Dear Aglet,

Maybe I should start with explaining to you who you are. You know–define my audience or whatever. If ever you do come into existence, some four or five decades from now, you will be my firstborn grandson. You’ll have possibly the worst name anyone could have, and I’ll have tried my hardest to convince them not to name you after shoelaces but they won’t have listened.

Now, since you’re imaginary, I have taken into account the possibility that you’ll be named something else. You might even be a girl, in real life. So I’ll clarify. Aglet, you are my imaginary, archetypal grandchild of the future. Hey.

These letters are for you to read in the future, assuming internet and blogging are still things when you’re up for reading them. Maybe they’ll be like microfiche is to me. Anyway, they are a collection of what I was thinking in reference to being a grandma someday.

And they’re also just for fun.

And cause I’m insane.

But it’s ok. I’ve accepted my insanity and we’ve moved on.

Below, please find a conversation I had with myself in my early twenties. It’ll prove to you that talking to myself and giving myself advice always has been the way with me–it’s not just an age thing. Enjoy.

Love, your grandma,

Jo

P.S. I’m sorry if you inherited the crazy gene from me.

……………………………………..

Sometimes I sit by myself and don’t do anything except like people. I mean, I sit there and think about ’em and just like them. I tend to view it as a valid, worthwhile activity, but if I think about it, it’s about the most passive thing I could do, because more often than not, I’m not telling them I like them, and I’m not doing anything to show them–

If anything I avoid them, giving the exact opposite impression. I just wish they knew. If it worked the way I wanted, I could think something nice about a person and somehow make them know I thought that.

…..

Me: Jo, there is.  It’s called language. Words. English. What you’re studying in college. You know, where you open your mouth and project sound and voice what you’re thinking. And voila, said person knows what you wanted them to know.

It’s not that hard.

…..

Me: Oh yeah. Right. So you mean I could just walk up to a person and say, hey, I was thinking of you and they were nice things I was thinking.

…..

mmhmm, sorta

…..

Me: Wow, who’d’a thunk? So I don’t have to agonize over gosh I just really wish this person was aware I think they’re the bee’s knees?

You mean I don’t have to avoid people because I’m afraid they might not like me as much as I like them?

I don’t have to worry about every possible thing that could go wrong, and which they might misunderstand?

…..

Yes. I mean, no, you don’t.

Also, you don’t need to fear awkwardness. Awkwardness, to remind you of what you already know but too often forget–well, awkwardness implies there’s something genuine going on. If everything were smooth and comfortable and easy all the time, you might suspect something shady was going down.

Like in the Music Man, where Harold Hill sells the instruments to those people. Harold Hill wasn’t gloriously awkward like you and your friends are.

Fight awkward with awkward, I say! Be brave and say “hey” til it’s not scary anymore.

….

Me: Yeah! Go Jo! Go be awkward and tell people they’re cool. And that you habitually sit by yourself in the cafeteria just liking them.

…..

Yeah.