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Lifetakes: Dear Future Me

Esther Kurtz

Was I married, I asked. Did I have kids? This was not a given in my 11th grade mind. And amazingly, baruch Hashem, I can smirk at that now

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

I should have opened it three years ago, but I couldn’t find it then. This past Succos, while looking in my sister’s room for T-shirts to shluch around in, I uncovered a stash of my old stuff — including the letter I wrote to myself in 11th grade, to be opened in ten years’ time.

The only thing I remembered writing was my hope that George Bush won the election. The rest was forgotten and, when I couldn’t find it, I was disappointed, wondering what 16-year-old me might have said to her future self. I’ll cut the suspense: not much.

Nothing smart or insightful. I was just curious as to who future me — well, present me — had become.

Was I married, I asked. Did I have kids? This was not a given in my 11th grade mind. And amazingly, baruch Hashem, I can smirk at that now. But back then, I really didn’t know, or think, or expect.

Did I go to college? Am I a teacher? Did I publish my book Given Nature — did I even end up writing it? Yes, yes, no, no.

I asked about politics and pundits, and the results of court cases I was following back then. Who cares, I say now. Funny, I never would’ve imagined I’d give up politics.

I asked about Harry Potter, how it all wrapped up. The last books had yet to be published. Quite easily, 11th grade me guessed that Snape was a good guy.

Was I still “friends” (11th grade quotes, not current me) with Deena, with Simi? Even in the letter, I affirmed, “I don’t think so.” As if I knew I was growing further from them. Did I keep up with a friend who switched to an out-of-state school? If not, 11th grade me implored, I should reach out to her.

I sorta did, sorta didn’t keep up with her. Last I saw her, she was sitting shivah for her sister; the time before, for her mother. We always pledge to keep up, but we live far apart and life is busy. Bad excuse, my 11th grade self would say, and I agree. Maybe I’ll give it another shot, for old time’s sake.

I mention other friends, how I hope I’m still friends with them, because they’re “worthwhile people.” I got two out of three. Is that enough?

I talk about a scar on my forehead that, if I still had, I would kill my sister Rochel Leah. This brings up a hazy memory of her scratching me or something, and me putting on endless vitamin E so the mark would fade. I guess I don’t have to kill my sister because I’m not entirely sure what 11th grade me is talking about.

The last thing, something I may actually take to heart, comes straight from the passionate purist I was, who I need to remind myself is still in me: “Don’t conform to anyone, unless you believe in what you’re doing.” That was, and still is, so me, yet it’s become harder and harder to live by. (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 616)


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