CD Number: 20
Track Number: 18
Song: “Every Day is Yours to Win” by R.E.M. from Collapse Into Now
I asked your mom to give this to you after I left. I’d love to be able to say these things to you, but I’m just no good at it. Like I’ve told you before, I was raised to think that men don’t talk about feelings. I got that’s just macho ridiculousness now, but that doesn’t mean I know how to change. At least I can say “I love you” now, right?
Anyway, this isn’t a good bye letter. I’m not going over there to die. I don’t think I will. This is a “Dad can’t always be right so here’s some insurance” letter. I don’t have much by way of wisdom. I think, even at your age, you know that. So I won’t say that this is me passing my insight generation to generation. Just think of it as what I’ve seen, I suppose.
First, do stuff all the time. I don’t mean never rest, I mean you always be trying things. Nothing will kill you faster than shrinking your world down to three things you know you like and five people. You may not always be good at those three things and who knows what can happen to those five people.
This goes double for food. Chicken nuggets are good, but damn, (don’t tell your mom I wrote that) sport, I promise you there is so much more out there. Food’s incredible. The older I get the more I can’t get over that. I hope you discover that for yourself.
Don’t spend everything you make. Don’t save it all either. Buy things for others, crap they’ll like but don’t need. Do the same for yourself. Remember that the stuff is not happiness though, just diversions. But we all need diversions.
Root for one sports team in any sport. Like a few others, but only root for one.
You’re a little young for dating now but when you start here are the rules. 1.) Be respectful. 2.) Be respected. 3.) Have fun. 4.) Understand when it is time to be serious about relationships, you’ll have to endure some rough patches between the fun. 5.) Recognize that that does not mean you should accept misery. Whether you decide you’re gay, straight, bi, or poly, these are the rules. Also, be honest with everyone about who you are. This is your family. We’re on your side.
Jeez, I just read what I wrote. Sorry, Danny, I sound like a jerk, huh?
Okay, okay. Here’s the real deal then. That stuff above is good and helpful but it’s the kind of thing that is sort of meaningless on the page. This is the summary that’s going to tell you all you need to know. Life is great. Life is hard. Both are true, often at the same time. Show up, take your lumps or your kudos, go home, wrap yourself in friends, family, and people you care about enough to sleep with (one at a time, preferably…although maybe, if everyone is on-board, more than one is okay. Seriously don’t show your mom this.) Believe in yourself and your people. Remember you’ll disappoint each other and yourselves on occasion. Try not to but know that it is okay when it happens.
And now a story to close: you were born, as we’ve told you many times, in the middle of a snow storm in April. It hadn’t snowed all year and bam, April 20th, snow everywhere. And your mom goes into labor. You know all this. I won’t go blow by blow.
Here’s the good part. The part I don’t say. That night, when all is said and done, I go to sleep and I dream. In the dream, I see you, not as my newborn son, but as an adult. 25, probably. You’re sitting at the dining room table, it’s a holiday I think. Everyone is talking and laughing. I see me too, older, and I realize that I am here observing. A traveler from the past with a moment to see the future. I kind of drift through the house. It’s not ours now, but some other place. Maybe some place we’ll live eventually. No one can see me, hear me, feel me. I step out on to the front porch of this house and breathe in. The air is cold, crisp. You step out shortly after me, lean against the wall next to me. I know you can’t see me but I hold my breath anyway.
I see you smirk. You whisper, “I know you’re there.”
I don’t say anything. I can’t seem to make words come.
You continue, reassuring, “We did okay. It’ll get hairy there for awhile but we did okay.”
Then you walk back inside.
I don’t know if I’ll ever see that day from that dream. You know how I feel about psychics and visions and all that. I do know this though. That will be you. You may not look like dream you or sound like dream you. But the truth of that…that’ll be you.
Things’ll get hairy champ, but we’ll do okay. I suspect you’ll do great and pull the rest of us along to okay.
Love you. Will see you soon,
Reach out and touch me at firstname.lastname@example.org or @ungajje on the Twitter. Let me know what you love and what you hate. And please, do spread the word.