I think that life is a train network, and everyone has a place they're destined to reach. Somewhere they'll be content, like, the whole 'happy ever after' deal? But the trick is figuring out which stop you've got to stop at because every stop, every station, is a mystery and a future full of potential. And literally everything is full of beauty; the journey, with all the new faces you see and get to know, that leave you sometimes and sometimes come back, depending on how your lives intersect. The flashes of light from the windows, the world around passing you by. The various stations with their peaceful, soothing ambiences, cool marbled seats and reassuring burr of trains dashing across the tracks. And there is a beauty in both boarding the trains and getting off and staying on; and staying right where you are. And sometime seeing all things as beautiful is wonderful for it makes life so much vibrant and endearing. But seeing everything in shades of beauty as it is, if it's not too presumptuous to say, can be incredibly confusing, for how does one judge beauty? How do you give up one choice in favour of another?
In the end if you grow uncomfortable with staying in place, if your hands grow lonely, if the chill seeps into your bones-- it's time to go. But what if these signs aren't there, but you know they're soon to come? Is staying still truly a waste of time, despite its charm? Can anything really in its entirety be ordained a 'waste'? No. But in the end... Sitting there, you're not going to go anywhere. You're going to sit there and watch all those trains pass you by. And if you feel even the least bit unsettled--by your paralysis or by your haste, do something about it, be it running into the next train that comes by or by getting off or even going back. Sometimes it's scary because you don't know where you're going or maybe you don't know what you're giving up or idk you don't know if what you're going back to find is still there. But the biggest regrets in life are always about the choices you let slip you by.
Have you made any, between 18 and 21?
I chose to write you 21-year-old-you (or is it 21-year-old-me?) because 3 years is enough time to actually be significant, and because it’s another coming-of-age of sorts, but most importantly because little enough time has passed, too, for you to go back and change things. Or change things and move forward.
Oh Samantha, God I hope people never start calling me Samantha, I know we’re strangers but do you remember, we met once, back in 2016? Do you remember that year fondly, do you remember it at all? I hope you haven’t condemned those times; they may have had their lows but they most definitely had their highs as well. And what are mountains without valleys?
Take a minute off your undoubtedly busy schedule and reminisce with me, won’t you? Just close your eyes and picture it, all of it, from the hours studying in the library to the hours spent laughing at the beach, the hours on the roof, staring, entranced by how the clouds move at night, how the lightning turns the black a brilliant white.
18: When life was supposed to revolve around education, but, well, life.
Incredible that one day you’ll look back on this letter and think, how much has changed! how naive I once was when change never ends and 18 to 21 or even 18 to 81 is not a jump but many, many small steps.
You’re 21 now. Do you feel old yet, reading what life used to be back then? Do you scoff at all these memories and think wow i was so stupid, so naive? I hope not. You’re grown old(er), but why grow up
Because 21 is a precipice, you say. Because, you say, the line between ‘carefree’ and ‘burdened’ has been crossed; everything from finances to health to family issues you now have to take responsibility for and romantic relations you can no longer blame on hormones and ‘the rashness of youth. And though it’s not actually sudden, suddenly your words have weight, and when people hear your ideas and your voice they can no longer dismiss them as the foolish notions of a child; suddenly your words have weight, and you can no longer toss them around as you do now.
I see the point in your words, and I don't even want to ‘never change’, life right now is so oddly volatile I do hope I don’t feel this way forever, but I hope I haven't changed too much.
Samantha, you remember the saying don't compare yourself to others, only to who you were yesterday? Go ahead, Samantha, see how much better off you are now, it’ll make you feel fantastic, and at no one’s expense. You’re more emotionally stable now? Awesome. You have a boyfriend? Cool, looking forward to that! You’re no longer broke? Amazing! Your writing no longer sucks? …I’m all for that!!
Yet at the same time, i hope these commonalities remain: a love of people, your zest for writing, that je ne sais qui that allows you to look and accept yourself for just being you.
But I guess I’ll just have to wait and see what happens, seeing as I’m the one that’ll be Samantha one day. I kind of can’t wait, but at the same time, don’t want it to ever happen. Isn’t that odd? I want to stay the same, stay my idea of ‘me’, but actually that concept of self is what will change with the years to eventually become Samantha and while that shouldn’t terrify me, because it’s just another version of ‘me’, one that I am in the process of determining, it does. But everything will work itself out, i just need to have faith.
Sam (a.k.a 18-year-old me)
p.s please be in uni please tell me I did well for my ‘A’s