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Dear My Old Friend, by ana~

This is quite possibly weirdest way to introduce myself

Some Notes, because I’m myself: 

Title is loosely based off of the Agust D song 어땠을까 here; I’m not usually one for lyrics, but these ones are quite fitting. I recommend, though, listening to Sorry-Grateful here because that’s… that’s just kind of the feeling that goes along with this post.

These letters were originally written for my blogger application for the prompt “Picture the one person in the world you really wish were reading your blog. Write her or him a letter.” I wrote elsewhere in the application that I wanted to write blogs that I wish I had read when I was younger, which will be the goal of my blogs!

Anyway, I’ll introduce myself properly later, but here’s a roundabout way of getting there.

Dear Seven-Year-Old Ana,

Hello! It’s me~
Hm, actually, maybe I should introduce myself. Let’s try that again.

Hello, my name is also Ana. Or, well, our name is Ana, I guess.
God, why is this so difficult? I’m just talking in circles. Okay, one more time.

Hello. I’m Twenty-One-Year-Old Ana. Right now, I’m studying math and philosophy. You don’t like either of those subjects yet, but you’ll grow to. And you’re going to be very satisfied that Mrs. J is wrong: you still can’t do minute math properly but you are good at math.

I’m sure you have a lot of questions, but I can’t remember what they might be anymore. I’ll start somewhere and keep talking, how’s that?

First: Mom, Dad, and sis are doing really well. 

We’re living in California right now. You like the snow, but, trust me, cold seeping into your body will get old eventually. Our sister’s in Chicago working as a journalist. 

Second, you don’t talk to your friends from Minnesota anymore, although you’re friends on Facebook. You have a lot of different friends now, but you still feel lonely sometimes.

I’m sorry — I’m not sure if you know what being lonely feels like. 

It’s like…

You know that ache that you feel in your chest when you watch mom and dad dancing in the kitchen? It’s kind of like that. Loneliness is that hollow when it moves up into your throat. 

I’ve been thinking a lot about endings, recently. That hollow is the knowledge that, some day, mom and dad will stop dancing in the kitchen. And there’s nothing you can do to stop time from passing. 

Loneliness is a type of grief, maybe.

I can’t help but imagine you as little and carefree. Though maybe that’s just my projection of who I think you are. 

When I remember my past, I imagine myself happy. 

I think I mean this as a bit of a warning, even though you are so young. I remember how much it used to bother you when people would say that you’re young, but it’s true. I’m a bit amused at the prospect of you being angry at me, too. You’re not as scary as you think, cutie.

I read this post on the internet years ago:

“oh, i am finally old enough to know why my parents took so long to grab their coats. why they would ask us to get ready to go only to sit down for another round of coffee. 

what would i tell myself, at 10 years old? it’s okay. sit down with them too…

one day you will be older and you will be waving goodbye to your best friend, and you will… think about how long the days felt, and how you could hold her hand whenever you wished, but you didn’t. and you will think about all of the people you could have lingered with. and you will wish… that the universe just gave you that – more time to linger. 

one more round of coffee. the days are so short, and you are so lovely.”

Inkskinned (via tumblr)

This year has been really difficult for us; that’s why I’m being, well, like this.
When I think of my past, I wish I had lingered. 

One day, you will be older and you’ll say goodbye to the home you’ve worked so hard to build. You will leave for the airport and feel an ache so large that you worry it’ll tear you apart. You shouldn’t look back, but you’ll do so anyway. 

And you will wish, more than anything, that you had more time to soothe the grief you know is coming.

Your wish will never be granted, Ana.
There is never enough time to spend with the people you love. 

I am your future, but in many ways you make up mine. That probably didn’t make sense. 

Maybe, this is a better way to explain it: I am still trying to live up to your goals and I am living out your decisions.

That makes you my future.
Please, be careful with that.

Sending a lot of love your way,

Ana (Paola) Reyes Sanchez
(yourself, just older)

P.S. Mom says that one day you’ll forget about being assigned line-leader and accidentally going to the playground instead of the cafeteria. You won’t.

Dear Fourteen-Year-Old Ana,

Hello, I’m you, seven years from now. Nice to meet you.
I’ll skip to what you want to know: you get into MIT when you’re seventeen. 

Maybe this will come as a relief to you. A realization of a goal you’ve had for half your life.
You always had so many dreams. I’ve said it in one way or another for ages. You decided you wanted to go to MIT when you were seven. Who the fuck does that?

And you’re adamant about changing the world — making a difference.
I’m starting to doubt that it’s possible. You would hate that I’ve said that.

This might all seem very dramatic to you, but the world is cruel and you’re still so young.
I’m sorry that I can’t make it better for you. 

Often, I look at my past and know I’ve grown as a result of it. I want to be someone you’d be proud of. It’s exhausting work though, isn’t it? 

There’s no point in complaining about it to you. I know you also feel tired. 

It’s difficult for me to know how I should see you. I feel like I have to care about you. I talked about this tangentially with a friend. They see their younger self as someone to protect.

You’re younger than me. You are so bright and angry with a world that doesn’t care; I could shield you. There is so much more for you to learn; I could teach you.

The problem is you come from the Before. Not just before MIT, or that summer program, or graduating high school.

You are me, before I’d acted in a way that defined me.

There’s this reading I did at MIT in one of my philosophy classes. How does it go?

“There is no reality except in action… Man is nothing else but what he purposes, he exists only insofar as he realizes himself, he is therefore nothing else but the sum of his actions, nothing else but what his life is.”

Sartre, Existentialism is a Humanism

If we are only the sum of our actions, that might explain why I see you as a stranger.
I’m sorry, I can’t help you.

You might be wondering why I’m writing this letter to you. 

Maybe I just figured it was time to respond to the letter you wrote to me. I’m not eighteen anymore, but I hope you won’t mind it coming from me.

It feels like you’ve been worrying your whole life.
My therapist asked about my first memory, once. You told her the half-hearted story about hiding the car keys in a plant vase before Dad left for the U.S. She asked what you felt. At the time, you were afraid of the future. 

Afraid of what? You don’t know.
I think I’m closer to figuring that out. 

You are wiser than I am.

You’re right that no one person changes the world.
You’re wrong that you will never be happy.

I’ve gone through a lot of things since I was you, but I’ve been happy.
I know that it’s there, somewhere within you. 

Sartre would hate that, but you haven’t read Sartre yet. 

“Many have but one resource to sustain them in their misery, and that is to think…  ‘I was worthy to be something much greater than I have been… there remains within me a wide range of abilities, inclinations, and potentialities, unused but perfectly viable.’

But in reality and for the existentialist… in life, a man commits himself, draws his own portrait and there is nothing but that portrait.”

Sartre, Existentialism is a Humanism

Can I claim for you to have happiness in yourself, unused but perfectly viable?

You’re not dating her anymore. It’s strange to me now the things that you think are forever. They’re not; hold them before they leave. 

One of my favourite phrases to use lately has been “I don’t know how to explain that your actions have consequences.” I’m not sure when I learned that, but you haven’t learned it yet. 

There are a lot of things I can’t convince you to change about the path you’re heading down.
I’ll try anyway:

  • Measure whether MIT is worth it.
  • Don’t walk out that door. You’ll know what I mean when you get there. 
  • You’ll care for someone that doesn’t care for you. It isn’t love, but you will think it is. Don’t let go of the people who love you.

Be careful. Your actions have consequences.

Ana (Paola) Reyes Sanchez

Dear Seventeen-Year-Old Ana,

I know why you left home that day. I still can’t tell if it was worth it. 

You probably want me to have a conclusion about that either way, right? I know you don’t have it yet. I’m sorry I don’t have it either.

Sometimes, I hate you for it.
I keep thinking that that’s when it all started. The first instance of an unchangeable action.

Maybe, if you hadn’t left the house, you wouldn’t have been so… hungry later on. Maybe you wouldn’t have been so desperate to find a home again. 

My therapist told me, last semester, that my actions were a reasonable response to the situation I was in. Can I claim to believe that things were out of my control? 

I told a friend yesterday, I have to believe that my love wasn’t a burden, because to think otherwise would be horrifying. Are we allowed to believe things because the opposite would be horrifying?

I’m sorry for having more questions than answers. 

We should talk about something different. I know you’re wondering about me too; you made a list of the things you’ve been thinking about. I’ll start there.

One: You still talk to him, sometimes, but it’s not the same. I wish we’d had more time together, but I know you already feel that. I wish I’d lingered when I had the chance.

Two: I’m sorry about your girlfriend, really. If it helps at all, it wouldn’t have worked. Give it time and you’ll also be able to see that.

Three: I don’t remember senior retreat much anymore. I’m sure that’ll surprise you. There’s something beautiful about knowing not everything is permanent, isn’t there?

Four: I’m glad you’re excited to get to work and dive into this new life ahead of you. It’s been a long time since MIT was something new to me; try and savor that feeling. 

Five: Those goddamn cards were right. Of your group, you have the hardest time saying goodbye. 

Six: You’ve been at a high that you won’t come down from for several months. Interphase holds a special place in the lining of your stomach. It’s left a bruise there.

Seven: You are going to MIT!

Eight: I’m sorry. You see this as exciting, right now. I don’t want to be the one to take that from you, but I feel the need to warn you: you are going to get hurt. 

Nine: Visiting Arizona will be good for you, though you’re not going to understand why yet. It’ll help to talk to people who don’t know to ask what’s happened. It’ll help to remember that there are people who love you first.

Don’t worry about writing a response. I’ve been spending more time looking back than I’d like.

It’s been a difficult year for you. Unfortunately, next year won’t be any easier.
It’ll get better, though. I promise. 

I love you,

Ana (Paola) Reyes Sanchez

Dear Twenty-Five-Year-Old Ana,

How’s being an MIT alum? Does it feel like everything you wanted?
What about everything I want?

I keep wondering if I’ll only really know what’s happened once the consequences are set in stone. It’s so much easier to understand life in retrospect, isn’t it? What a shame.

I still can’t believe that I turned twenty-one this month.
I think it’s at least somewhat natural for me to have not been able to visualize my future when I was younger. I still can’t see myself being you.

I’m worried that I’ll be a different person.
No, that’s not the right worry; I will be different. I’m worried that I won’t like you.

I’ve been thinking about hope.
I do have hope; I can’t help it. It echoes inside that hollow in my chest. Does it echo in yours?

I lied to them, you know. Our younger selves. 

I am still looking toward the future. I am still determined to make a difference.
I am bright and angry. There is so much for me to learn. Please, would you teach me?

Do you love me? Do you hate me?

I’ve been thinking about love. I talked to a friend yesterday about whether love was selfish. We didn’t come to any conclusions because we couldn’t figure out whether love was a choice or not. 

Am I choosing to ache? Do I want otherwise?

Loving you has always been suffocating, but I think I prefer it to the alternative.

I reread Charles Bukowski’s “Bluebird” before I went to sleep last night. I remember thinking the bluebird was love when I first read it. What do you think it is, now?

there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I’m too tough for him,
I say, stay in there, I’m not going
to let anybody see
there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I pour whiskey on him and inhale
cigarette smoke
and the whores and the bartenders
and the grocery clerks
never know that
in there.

there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I’m too tough for him,
I say,
stay down, do you want to mess
me up?
you want to screw up the
you want to blow my book sales in

there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I’m too clever, I only let him out
at night sometimes
when everybody’s asleep.
I say, I know that you’re there,
so don’t be
then I put him back,
but he’s singing a little
in there, I haven’t quite let him
and we sleep together like
with our
secret pact
and it’s nice enough to
make a man
weep, but I don’t
weep, do

Charles Bukowski, “Bluebird”

Have you stopped letting me out yet?

Give your family a call, if you haven’t. Get some rest.

Ana (Paola) Reyes Sanchez
(yourself, in case you forgot)