love letter from 94-year old me

by erika

Dear Erika,

Here we are again…back to the beginning.

And still, all these years later, you hear The Spaniard in your head, “I am waiting for you, Vizzini. You told me to go back to the beginning. So I have. This is where I am, and this is where I’ll stay. I will not be moved.” Even after 80 years, you cannot forget a single line from that film. Sometimes we just sit here, watching it in our head. Scene after scene. Feeling the star twinkling descent of Buttercup from that window as if it were our own memory of falling. People think we are listening at dinner, but we are really watching the Princess Bride and hearing Wallace Shawn’s perfect lisp, “You’ve given everything away! I know where the poison is!…”

But I digress, today is a different cliff of insanity. A different inconceivable return–another school year beginning.The students are just moving in this week but you and your team of artists return to “retreat.” I’m writing to you to help you get back on that proverbial horse–you can choose her color–but up you go. Here, my gnarled hand–spotted from the glorious sun–still strong as hell–place your foot in its cup. And my shoulder, wide, almost returned to wings, for you to rest your palm (stop cracking your knuckles, it does you murder in the end). Quiet your inner complaints about the other jockeys and your tired thighs. Lucky you to still feel the wind, to be in the field, to have apples in your pockets to offer at the day’s end to the softest muzzle of a mouth (no, not your son’s, this is still the proverbial horse I’m talking about. She’s a beaut and you better treat that mare right). Get thee back up and out and see if you can try a few new tricks this year.

  1. Stop caring so much what other people think. Their thoughts are not your business.
  2. Try going in without already seeing the end…as a dear one says, “Something will happen,” but you have no idea what it is and really no control over it. So let go of expectations that set you up for misery before anything has actually gone awry.
  3. Less sugar at night. You’re making your body work too hard while you sleep. Give the girl a real rest.
  4. Open your mail before you check your email. I have been writing you almost everyday and you are only getting a smidge of my letters…There’s so much old lady wisdom in there–and a great recipe for oatmeal cookies that you are missing out on.
  5.  Trust the abundance that is coming to you. This is not a fluke. You have worked hard for it and lived off such crumbs. And I’m not just talking money here, kid.
  6. You thought about this again on the water yesterday and something about the reflective blue made you really get it:you are not responsible for other people’s responses to your life, especially your happiness. When you feel happy, feel happy. This too shall pass.
  7. Really look at those toilet dreams you have that stand-in for your fears. What are you trying to flush away? You do stop dreaming about bathrooms eventually, but only after you finally snake the drain of your own anxiety and let some serious shit go.
  8. There was an 8th thing but I forgot and started thinking about the scene in the fire swamp…”No.No.We have already succeeded…”

I do so love you, Erika. And that’s all that matters, isn’t it? No need for others to tell you that they see how hard you are trying, and how hard you are working, and how hard it is…Maybe replace that word “hard” with something cushionier. Maybe let that hard work just be work, or good work, or maybe, if it’s so hard, consider a change. Things only get harder the less resistant to gravity we become. You know you love a firm mattress but with a pillow top–hard as support but with a fluffy embrace. Perhaps more fluffy barriers between you and the hard? More embrace. Less bracing. It’s better for these old bones of ours, so do it for me if you can’t quite get around to taking care of you.

Ears up, girl, ears up,

94 -year old Erika


(a reminder–this is you today, almost one month away from 46. about halfway to where i write from)