I’m stealing a most excellent idea from my great friend Monkaey and I’m writing a letter/blog entry to my 15 year old self. Here goes….
Hey there 15 year old Billy! I know you officially dropped the Y from your name in 6th grade and you prefer to be called Bill these days, but it seems like everyone likes to call you Billy in the future, so you eventually give up and embrace your Y again. It really fits you. You turn out to be a really fun guy and I guess that’s why people choose to call you Billy again. Bill is a little too serious for who you become.
It’s 1979 for you now and I have lots of things to tell you from the future. So let’s get started.
I’m here to tell you that you make it to 40 pretty much unscathed. Nice work. The 40 year old you is sitting on the roof of your cool loft in downtown Chicago having some wine and writing a blog – which you’ll find out what that is all in good time.
You have a few near misses with injury during your life, but you have your health now and with the exception of an evening in the emergency room in a few years, (an on-stage thespian related accident if you can believe it) you pretty much never see the inside of a hospital except to visit some friends and family down the road.
Mom and Dad are still around and doing well, and your kid sister turns out to be an amazing and responsible person, even though you guys don’t see eye to eye during her party monster stage a few years from now. But she’s fine, is married and has a few kids by now. So cut her a little slack when you feel like getting all big brother on her.
But let’s talk about you now.
You have some exciting things coming up in the next 20 years or so. You have a lot of fun with your high school rock band Meranox, so enjoy that experience, but keep hitting the books because you never get that big record contract you guys are sure is just around the corner. And your favorite band, Styx – well I have two words for you – Mr. Roboto. Yeah, heroes fall hard when they fall.
Turns out you’re quite the writer in the future. You dabble with news journalism in college and actually become a news director of a couple of local radio stations before you graduate from Purdue. Not college stations, mind you, the real deal. You even have a little stint as a radio talk show host and you end up as a television news anchor for a brief period of time – all before you’re 25. Pretty cool.
Your dreams of being a television cameraman are also realized in that time. And even though you get become a television commercial director as well, your realize the power is really in television and film editing and you head down that path with great success.
And you know how you carry around that little instamatic camera all the time? Turns out you have quite the photographic eye as well. In college, you write news for the Purdue Chronicle and that’s where you really start to get into photography in a big way. You even get access to the school darkroom and spend a lot of time in there, learning about B&W photography. You’ll build on that for the rest of your life.
Your photography travels will take you around the world. Germany, (the Berlin wall comes down a few years before you get there, so Mom doesn’t have to worry about you visiting the Iron Curtain), Italy, Greece, The Netherlands, Czechoslovakia (which is now the Czech Republic), half way to the North Pole in upper Canada, but you really fall in love with France – Paris specifically. So maybe you should consider switching from Spanish to French language classes next year. You eventually learn to speak French down the road, but it would be nice to learn some basics while you’re still in high school.
But yeah, you’re damn good at photography. I hesitate to tell you this next bit about that because you might try to do it before you’re ready, but you end up creating quite a vast amount of photography involving what you would refer to now as naked ladies. Now hold on there… before you wet yourself… it’s not the kind of pictures that you have in those magazines stashed in the back of the filing cabinet near your bed. No, dude, just chill and listen to me for a minute. You make amazing art with what you’ll learn to call Figure Photography, but you do it in a way that women can really appreciate. Not the cheap crap, okay?
And yeah, so let’s talk about the women in your future. You’re a good listener and you really respect women as you grow up, so you have lots of great women friends as well as guys you hang out with. You’re really a decent human.
You don’t get married yet even though you tell everyone you will when you’re 23. But that’s really ok, because you get to do a lot of cool things like seeing the world without it being at Disneyland with the kids in tow. Really. You’re not going to be alone. You have amazing friends and great adventures.
The only pieces of advice I’d like to give you as your older self are as follows: You have a little scare in your junior year of high school with that girl you just took to the Turnabout dance, and since your Catholic High School education doesn’t bother to teach you about condoms, I’m going to tell you now. The night in the backseat of Ed Brown’s car with your new girlfriend? You’re lucky. But you should really stop at Walgreen’s and pick up a box of condoms. It’s just a scare, but that week the two of you think you’re going to be 17 year old parents is a rough one. Don’t be embarrassed to ask the nice man at the pharmacy what aisle they’re in.
The second thing I would say is you’re going to get an application for a credit card your sophomore year in college. Be careful with your credit cards. They will get a little out of control a few times in your life. You shouldn’t be paying 21% interest on a pizza you bought three years ago.
And finally, don’t be so shy when you develop crushes on girls. It turns out that many times during your life when you were looking across the room, too afraid to tell a girl you liked her, she was looking across the room thinking the same thing about you. But you won’t find that out until years later when it is too late. You’re a good guy. Girls really like you. Don’t sell yourself short.
Ok then, young Bill(y). Go out and have fun knowing the future you turns out just great. Taste life and experience as much as you can. Your future successes and failures make you you. And that you is pretty amazing!
Cheers little Bill(y). I’ll be waiting for you on the other side.