Eliza Maxwell

A letter to me at ten

I see you there.  Yep.  You.  With your nose buried in a book, hanging out on the backyard on the swing Dad made from two ropes and a board.  You don’t think anyone’s watching, but memory is a tricky thing, and I remember the feel of the springtime wind through your tangled ponytail and the gentle sway as you push off the ground absentmindedly with bare toes.

Your brother is probably down by the creek, fishing.  I’ll tell you a secret—today, three decades later, your brother is probably still fishing somewhere.  I can smell the chicken and dumplings wafting outward from the kitchen, too.  And another secret—no matter how many times you try, you’ll never be able to make that recipe as well as Mom can.

There are so many things I wish I could say to you. I’d give you a list of guys to avoid, for your teenage self to reference, but you wouldn’t listen anyway.  And besides, without the frogs you probably wouldn’t recognize a prince when you find one.

I’d tell you to choose a small college, not a major state university.  You don’t understand it yet, and won’t for a long time, but you’re an introvert, love, and you always will be.

I’d tell you not to worry when your parents divorce.  A decade will pass, but eventually they’ll circle back and find one another again.

I’d tell you that all those times Mom says she hopes you have a daughter just like you, well that happens, and it’s not such a bad deal after all.

I so wish I could tell you to hug your grandmothers tightly, both so tightly.  There will come a time when you’ll miss them more than your ten-year-old heart can imagine.

I’d like to tell you about today.  Your forty-year-old self.  Less than two weeks to go until the launch of your first novel with a major publisher.  Mom, wife, daughter, sister—writer.  You’re a writer, love.  You did it.

That dream you have the seeds of, even now, buried deep under your ever so practical side.  It will be a while, but every step you take—every mistake, every heartbreak, every joy—will help you down the bumpy road to becoming the writer you’re destined to be.  For better or worse.

So you go ahead and soak in those stories, so many stories, even the ones the prissy librarian believes inappropriate for your age.  Go ahead and nurture that dream, quietly, and with patient persistence.  One day, that dream will bloom.  Trust me.  I know.

But I can’t tell you any of that.  You wouldn’t hear me even if I could.  You’re immersed in A Wrinkle in Time, so I’ll leave you to it.