‘Here,’ mama said, after she’d unpacked her bags in the Sardinian villa we were to share, as a family, for the next eight days. ‘Your Auntie Shirley sent this with me.’
Dear Auntie Shirley, the envelope read on the back. Today is August 25th 2012, and so this is a letter from the past, to my future self. I didn’t know where I’d live, or where mum and dad would live, so I’m sending this to myself at your address. I hope that’s okay! Love you!
I stared at the letter in my hands. I didn’t open it for a week.
This morning you cried. It’s the day of their wedding and that means years of wondering and hurting and ill feeling and strength and sadness and everything else have a final line drawn under them. You’ve learnt to be kinder to yourself over this time – particularly this summer – and it’s been the education of a lifetime. But you’ve also been very hard on yourself, too, punishing yourself for what you perceive to be ‘so long’ to heal. When things in life happen to us that alter the very core of our being, it is a sort of meditation to reflect on that change. It doesn’t happen so that we can forget – it happens so that we can remember. By remembering we take that lesson with us we honour our experience. Each experience prepares us for the next one. That’s how it’s supposed to be.
My hope for the Laura of August 25th 2013, or 2014, or 2015, is that you are in love again. In love with a man (no more boys!) who maybe also had his heart dented once, and who is gentle and kind and wants you to be the best version of you because he understands that that’s all you want for yourself.
Remember that today a ghost from your past – somebody you thought had forgotten you - reached out to tell you that you’re remembered as somebody else walks down the aisle. You thought that nobody in your old life would think of you today. But as you cross over into this next phase, a new phase so clear it is startling, don’t be afraid to take these experiences and painful memories – you’ll need them to remind you of how you got to where you are.
You’ve changed. Nobody did this but you. You made a decision to push yourself to a new understanding and it has led to meeting the exact people you were supposed to meet, who have influenced this journey in such indescribable ways.
Send some emails today. Jo, Amy, Fern. Eric. Derrik. Cassie. Email her, too. Make sure you give thought to Pam, Maddie, Cat and Fagan. You didn’t know how much you needed them, but you did.
Be with Calum. Say hi to Strickland. See what Alma Rada is doing today. Call mum, and dad, and Jack. Love your family. They’re the only one you’ve got.
Think about DREAMERSchool and the ‘colors’ and the way you knew you’d done something good there. Are you doing something good now? Follow your heart and heed the omens. That’s today’s question: has this letter come to remind you that whatever decision you are currently facing, you’ve been scared before and pulled through so tell the truth. Be honest with yourself (why is it so hard to be honest to yourself?) The only wrong answer is the one where you don’t stay true to you.
You’ll be okay.
Go write some letters now, and maybe even another one for the Laura of August 25th 2014, or 2015, or 2016.
You are loved.
Laura Jane xx
At the very heart of everything I do is a story. A narrative arc. A way of retrospectively joining the dots to have it all make sense. It’s how my brain works.
This time is no different.
I’ve come to Italy every summer since I was 22. I lived here for 18 months after I graduated. I wrote the first draft of my manuscript in Rome. Last year I stayed in London, and it didn’t feel write. Right, I mean… write, Laura. London has been so full of excuses. This letter was my reminder.
Are you doing something good now?
Yes. I am. I’m travelling and listening to myself and writing, writing, writing. I’ve opened my heart to adventure and remembered that here, now, in the country that made me, with a backpack strapped to my body and a mouthful of words I try to make into thoughts into sentences into conversations, that I choose to be hopeful, to be wildly irresponsible in pursuit of a dream that might not look like anybody else’s, but that’s what makes it mine. I’m trying.
And I’m proud.
I’ve no idea, really, what I’m doing, except for one crystal clear, ironic fact: I feel more sure of myself than I ever have done before. Bold is brave. Brave is alive. Alive is living. I think the Laura of August 25th 2012 would be fucking thrilled with this beautiful mess of a life I've got going on right now.