Letter to my future self

The spring of my high school senior year, I wrote a letter to myself. My peers and I were at our senior retreat and one of the activities was to write a letter to yourself 10 years from that current moment.

I received the letter today. (It’s actually been 11 years since I wrote the note). I remember writing it but hadn’t remembered any of its content.

As I scanned the letter, I recognized my handwriting. Then as I started reading and comprehending the words, I began to cry.

“I’ve accomplished nothing that my 17-year-old self sought out to,” I thought. “What have I been doing for the last decade??”

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The letter was written in April and I wrote about how I probably ended up going to college at Willamette University. It eluded to the fact that I now owned my own house with a nice kitchen.

I did not go to Willamette. I ended up staying in state and going to UW. I am nowhere near owning a house. I rent an apartment with a roommate.

But, another big part about my letter was asking me about how all my friends are doing. I’m happy to report that they are all well and good. One thing that has been a constant throughout my life are my childhood/high school friends. I’m actually waiting at the airport now, to go visit one of my friends all the way across the globe!

My life may not be like I thought it would be 11 years ago. But, I wouldn’t change anything. I’m happy.

And I’m happy that my former self was able to remind me of all the important people in my life. Thanks, high school Kristin.

All we wanted was ice cream cake

When someone wants an ice cream cake for his birthday, you get him an ice cream cake.

Unless the ice cream cake shop decides to close — for good.

I was on a mission two Sundays ago to buy an ice cream cake for Bryce’s continued birthday celebration with my family.

When Marissa and I drove into the Baskin Robbins parking lot — a pretty full parking lot — I was shocked to see the “Store Closing” banners.

“Oh no! They are closing??” I said.

I know, I know … no one really cares about ice cream these days. It’s all about the froyo or gourmet-type ice cream like Molly Moon’s. But, Baskin Robbins? Not so much.

But, this Baskin Robbins on Sand Point Way near University Village was one of those “iconic” places. I had my first sugar cone there as a child and cut the roof of my mouth trying to eat it. (After that I only ordered ice cream in a cup, and still do!) We’d frequent the place with my parents after our sports games.

Plus, my mom would always buy ice cream cakes here for my brother’s birthday. (Is liking ice cream cakes just a guy thing?)

When Marissa and I walked into the shop, the standing freezers were empty. Today was in fact the store’s very last day of business. There were no more ice cream cakes. They were selling scoops of ice cream as a BOGO (buy one, get one free) deal.

“Well, you want to get ice cream?” Marissa asked me.

“Sure …” I replied knowing that a scoop of ice cream would make me feel momentarily better. But, it didn’t change the fact that I needed an ice cream cake.

My last scoop was a coconut ice cream in a wafer cone. (They were all out of my favorite, mint chocolate chip). Yes, I decided to go crazy buy having it in a cone!

We ended up not getting an ice cream cake that afternoon. We were on a time crunch so we didn’t have the time to drive across town to another Baskin Robbins. A quick trip to QFC turned up short. (Yes, they sell ice cream cakes, but for $20 they did not seem worth it. Trust me).

The second best thing I could do was buy a regular cake. We ate it with ice cream.

R.I.P Baskin Robbins at Five Corners. A huge towering condo better not be going up in your place.

Kids will be kids

Usually songs or smells are triggers. Not a billboard on the big intersection you go through every day on your drive home from work.

In fact, I’m not even sure if the billboard advertisement was new or if it had been there for weeks. But, I noticed it for some reason yesterday. It’s probably because I was second in line at the red stop light, waiting to turn left. (It’s this crazy intersection where five directions/roads meet. If you get stopped at red, you could be waiting for a bit).

Kids will be kids. We’ll make sure of it.

The two short sentences struck me instantly. I didn’t even have time to think. I was crying. I was waiting for the light to turn green and tears were streaming down my face.

Next to this simple phrase was a picture of a little girl. It was a closeup and her face was covered in dirt and her hair was disheveled. Clearly, she was having fun being a kid.

I couldn’t stop crying. I kept re-reading these two sentences over and over again in my head. As if by the fifth time, maybe it wouldn’t be as sad. It wouldn’t be as poignant. The light signal seemed like it was taking forever to change colors.

This was a billboard advertisement for the local children’s hospital. And, in my opinion, it does a good job getting their message across. This hospital will take care of your kids — so that they can continue to be kids.

But, what if that doesn’t happen?

What if the kid’s life is cut short?

What if the kid never gets a chance to grow up, to graduate college, to get a job and be married and have a family of her own one day?

These were the questions spiraling in my head.

The light finally changed and I followed the car in front of me up the hill toward my house. I was surprised that all these memories and pain came flooding back to me from one small piece of advertisement.

Yes, it was the same hospital she was getting her care at.

Yes, at the time, even at 17, she was still a kid. We were all kids.

But, it’s been nine years. Isn’t the mourning period supposed to be over?

Maybe it’s never over for those who have made a significant impact on your life. For those who truly were the best friend they could be to their friends.

Natalie, I’m thinking of you. 

The camping and running in downpours, the iron-on T-shirts, the graphic design-y stuff, and just the act of being nice to everyone … I will always remember everything you taught us and all the fun we had as kids.

I’ll make sure of it.

Songs from the past

“Wow, I haven’t heard this song in forever!” he said.

Forever meant since high school, for Bryce. I had the radio playing in the car and we couldn’t decide if it was an old Goo Goo Dolls or Matchbox Twenty song we were hearing.

They say smells can really bring up memories. I agree.

I think sound — mainly songs — can also do the same.

I have a bunch of music on my computer, most of which I hardly ever listen to. I’m the type of person who used to buy a CD and would listen to the album over and over and over and over again for weeks on end. I would listen to it until I memorized the lyrics to most of the songs (and I’m pretty bad at memorizing song lyrics just because half the time I hear something different from what the artist is actually singing!) I would listen to the songs while driving. I would listen to them while at home. I would listen to them with my headphones in as I did homework or studied.

The CD player in my car broke many years ago, so now it’s just the radio on my commute to and from work. (I know, I don’t even have one of those adaptors for my phone!)

But, every once in a while when an “old” song comes up, I am reminded of another time in my life. I’ll remember exactly what grade I was in. I’ll remember the song from a school dance. I’ll remember singing to it with my friends in middle school at a sleep over. I’ll remember the way the song made me feel — usually happy, but sometimes not.

So, forever more, the following will always be songs from [insert grade/year/age]:

Life in Cartoon Motion, MIKA – Sophomore year of college.

Songs About Jane, Maroon 5 – 16 y/o when I drove myself to school and listened to the album for the better half of an entire school year.

“Hold On”, Wilson Phillips – Elementary school, or even earlier. There are home videos of me singing along to this sister-trio hit.

“Faith”, George Michael – Again, elementary school, or even earlier. I thought it was a catchy song then and I think it still is now. And yes, I know all the words.

Taylor Swift (first two albums) – I was late to catch on to the awesomeness of T-Swift. So, it wasn’t until junior year of college when I listened (non-stop) to her first two albums.

No Strings Attached, N*Sync – Making up dance moves to “Bye Bye Bye” in my room with Gwen in 7th grade.

 

I know there are more songs I have attachments or associations with, but these are the ones that come to mind right away. It’s all very, you know, nostalgic.

 

 

When it all just becomes memories

I am a strong believer that “everything happens for a reason.”

If you work hard, it’ll pay off — even if it takes a while.

If you do something bad, you will have to live with the consequences of your actions.

But, one exception to this “everything happens for a reason” that I am still trying to figure out / do not agree with is:

death.

How can a stolen life be just?

Especially when that life was taken all too soon?

And unexpectedly?

I just don’t understand.

And, (for me anyway,) the notion of death brings up painful feelings of others close to me who have passed.

And then, I feel like I am mourning for them too — all over again.

But, this past weekend we celebrated the life of a dear man who will be forever held in our hearts and memories. It was evident by all the people — all the family, friends, and coworkers — who attended the service held on that sunny California beach.

Later on my little cousin pointed to a photo of him walking on a sandy beach wearing his wetsuit and holding his surf board. She looked over at the ocean and noticed the same barrier pictured in the photo. “Hey, this is the same beach he surfed at,” she softly said.

I will never forget his laugh and the way he made the rest of us laugh. He was the type of person that always uplifted everyone’s spirits.

I’d like to think that he’s out there surfing somewhere similar to that California beach or the Hawaii waters he so much enjoyed.

Uncle, you are terribly missed and will always be loved.

 

Never Forget

“So, where were you 11 years ago?”

I was actually kind of relieved that she asked me. For some reason, I thought I would go the entire day without anyone bringing up 9/11 directly to me.

This morning on my commute to work, there were magnificent rays of sun gleaming through sweeps of dark clouds beyond the Cascade Mountains. It was really a beautiful sight. (It would make any atheist believe in God). And then to my right, there was the Space Needle with an American flag at half staff.

Just as I turned into the parking lot, Mariah Carey’s “Hero” started to play on the radio. I thought about that flag and why it was wavering. I thought about those countless images I have seen. I thought about the people. I thought about the stories. My eyes began to tear up.

“I was in high school,” I responded to my coworker.

She joked about how my response made her feel old. She told me about how she was in a religion class in college and her professor went about the entire lecture with no clue about the attacks. None of the students told her because they were confused and scared, I guess. I told my coworker how I first found out on the radio when I woke up that morning to go to school. Although the radio DJs were saying that a plane had collided into the World Trade Center, my mind couldn’t comprehend it. It didn’t make any sense to me. I didn’t tell my dad what I had just heard on the radio.

Before we left the house that morning, my mom called from work and told us the news. The TV was turned on. And, there were those images.

On my drive home from work this afternoon, I noticed a few flower bouquets rested at a flag pole outside a fire station. For a second I was trying to figure out why there were flowers at that specific station or street corner.

It wasn’t that specific location, it’s the specific day.