Pete Gilbert has some advice for his younger self on choosing cars and living life unscripted.
Sit down. There’s a lot I need to tell you. On second thought, go take a shower first, dude you stink and don’t wear your t-shirts inside out, that looks stupid.
Ok. Here we go.
It’s your senior year of high school, have fun. Spend lots of time with your friends, keep playing sports, the real world will come some day. I know you think after high school you will lose track of those friends that move away, but don’t worry, several of the friends you have now, you will still have almost two decades later. In fact, a few of those guys will stand up with you in your wedding just like you do in all of their weddings.
Yep, that’s right I said wedding. YOU, get married, to a girl and everything. Crazy right? More on that later.
Back to the part about your friends. Your Brother brand word processor will be replaced with a computer that allows you to communicate with a lot of those guys even though you don’t live that close to them anymore. Speaking of computers…there’s going to be this company called Google, set aside a couple of bucks to invest in the company. You can thank me later.
In about a year, your parents are going to get a divorce. You will sort of see it coming, but only barely. It is going to rock your world pretty good for a few months. Don’t worry buddy, looking back on things it all turned out just fine.
I’m sure you want to know all about girls, since you are an 18 year old boy. Well, here’s my advice, don’t take the relationships you have with girls so seriously. You will have some positive relationships and some down right bad ones, but you will learn from all of them. Trust me it’s going to be quite a few years, but eventually you will meet an incredible girl. You will spend a year getting to know each other, another year engaged, and then you will be fortunate enough to marry her.
What else is there to talk about?
Put away those freaking cigarettes. I know you and your friends are just occasionally puffing on a couple here and there for a quick buzz, but it won’t take long for it to turn into a habit. If you don’t do it now, you will continue to screw up your health for half a dozen years and spend thousands of dollars on those stupid things.
That Pearl Jam tattoo you considered getting probably would have been ok. Believe it or not, they are still out on tour rocking today. But, truthfully, thanks for not getting it. I like not having any tattoos.
When you get to college, go to class, you dumbass. You are the first person in your family to go to a four year school. Don’t sleep through your classes that start before ten. Hide the academic probation letter before mom sees it. It kind of pisses her off. Also, don’t wait until the last week of your college career to finally enter the doors of the Rec Center to exercise, it’s a pretty cool place. Speaking of exercise, I hesitate to mention that you now enjoy long distance running, because I’m certain you will think I’m lying.
Another thing, don’t buy a Ford Bronco from that shady car dealer in Carbondale. That thing is a piece of shit. If you buy it, you will find yourself hitchhiking on the interstate three days later. You will also find yourself in court when you go to sell it.
You will move to St. Louis without a plan, but everything will work out ok. The people you meet, the jobs you have and the life lessons you learn will be priceless. And believe it or not, that used Geo Prism that you buy right before you move there will last you well over 100,000 more miles and for almost a decade. When you do leave St. Louis say your goodbyes carefully and make them meaningful, one of those guys you will never see again. I won’t tell you which one, but you will be able to figure it out.
After a couple of years, you will have this desire to go back to school (in your hometown) to get a teaching certificate. You will be nervous about what your friends will think and fearful that your parents will be disappointed, don’t worry dude, things work out great. You actually go to class this time AND meet the woman you spend the rest of your life with. I’d say it was all worth it.
You’re going to have kids too! You will have somewhere between one and ten children. I’ll let you stress out about that one for a few years!
In your 30’s you settle into a good groove, married, having kids, teaching middle school. The years start to fly by. Life throws you a curve ball around age 35. I don’t want to ruin the surprise, but things are better than ever.
So, 18 year old self, you may think you know everything, but you really know so little. I thought about mailing this letter to you at your house, but there is a greater chance of you being at a couple of your buddies’ houses, so that’s where you will find it.
Oh, and one last thing, in 1999 don’t make a Y2K emergency kit. Reason #1-You will not need it. Reason #2- you will eat most of the food in the kit before December 31st. Reason #3- Your roommates will never let you live it down.
Cheers and have fun!
36 year old self
Tow Truck Photo: Alden Jewell/Flickr
Bronco Photo: Greg Gjerdingen/Flickr
Pearl Jam logo: Courtesy of author