Dear Me (or Jessi, as you’re calling yourself these days),
I’m sitting in an English city you’ve never seen, 19 years into your future, and I think there’s a few important things I want to tell you.
I could advise you to do or not do all sorts of things – like stand up to Mum and go do BTEC Performing Arts at Bangor because that’s where your heart really is – but I know you don’t have it in you to even try being that self-assured yet. I’m not going to warn you about every twist and turn because, as we say now, ‘spoilers’ are lame and if you know what’s coming next, nothing will ever surprise you and you do love being surprised by Life, despite your apparent cynicism. I’m just going to pick up a few key points and let you figure the rest out for yourself – you don’t do too bad a job of that!
(Oh, that symbol’s a winking smiley face – lean your head to the left and you’ll see what I mean. Those are called ‘emoticons’ and people start to use a lot of them in the next ten years.)
1) You couldn’t have saved Dad, not that once and not ever – I’m not going to explain everything here but trust me, his death was because of things you couldn’t possibly have known at the time and it will take a very long time to understand. You did the best you could and he would not want you to feel this way.
2) You have to stop partying the way you are. You’re messing up your life and your mind and you are worth so much more than what you are doing to yourself. I know you believe that you’re worthless and that this is some bizarre ‘mortification of the flesh’ for you – you’ll understand that concept when you get fascinated by the darker elements of Catholicism in History class next year. You’re basically trying to wreck yourself out of guilt, self-loathing and pain – you don’t deserve it and there are far better ways to deal with these feelings than drinking yourself stupid and sleeping around.
3) Go and talk to Dr Ian as soon as possible about how emotionally messed-up you feel sometimes. You like him, you trust him and he really is one of the good guys. He won’t tell your Mum, he won’t lock you up in the nuthouse and he can get you help so you can manage things in a better way.
I didn’t do this and I really wish I had. It took me another 3 years to even know there was a term for the emotional yo-yo experience you’re living in and I’ve only really got to grips with it in the last two years. We’ll have a battle to fight for the rest of our lives but we don’t have to fight it blind.
OK. Now for the most complicated one.
When you go to the National Eisteddfod next summer, you need to understand there will be massive consequences to investigating the noisy party on the last night. First and most immediately, the rest of the guys will leave without you the next morning – you’re just going to find all your kit dumped under a tarpaulin, in the field where the caravan was.
You’ll be stunned, furious and hurt all at once; take a deep breath and try to think about it from their side. You didn’t tell anyone where you were going or when you’d be back. (This is another reason why you need to stop partying – you’re taking too many stupid risks.)
There’ll be a blond guy at the party who will change your life forever. He’ll be your knight in shining armour when the lads have bailed on you and will pull in favours left, right and centre to get you home. He’ll inspire you, he’ll open up a whole new world to you and he’ll give you the courage to face the one thing that keeps you awake at night right now.
He’ll also be subtly manipulative, will take over your life and will eventually break your heart, in the most devastating way, and you will not see it coming.
I’m not telling you not to go to the party – I’m just warning you that one moment will change the course of your life. That one decision sets off a chain reaction of events that leads you firstly to Greece, then Aberystwyth Uni, then on to Paris and London; you’ll see incredible things and meet some weird and wonderful people (some of whom are still in your life in 2011); you’ll face real difficulties, fall in and out of love and, most amazingly, you’ll have a beautiful daughter who grows up to be your best friend.
The next 19 years are going to be an interesting ride, kiddo, but you will make it through. Enjoy the good times because you have plenty and trust me, the bad times do eventually pass. You might end up a little battle-scarred by it all but you do get through and are so much stronger inside than you know.
In 2010, you’ll discover a talent and a passion you never knew you had and that’ll move you in a whole new direction again. Right now, as I’m writing this, I’m finalising two different business plans and looking at venues for some really adventurous arts and creative projects in that city I mentioned (I’m not telling you where, though – ‘spoilers’, right?) You are going to do things you’d never imagine and we’ve still got many years ahead, hopefully.
Oh and get used to the name on your birth certificate, kid – you’ll never stop spelling it to people but eventually, you will feel comfortable with it. You’ll especially like the way it sounds on one man’s lips and you’ll never look back.
Keep your chin up and keep hoping.