So much I did not know

Today's mail marked the arrival of a package I've never been able to forget about in the five years since it was created: a time capsule created in Dr. Holbrook's class during the latter part of my hellish senior year of college.

These were my words. Commentary follows.

December 11, 1997

Just some thoughts here. I've got to get this turned in in about 40 minutes, so I'm going to write as fast as I can and hope that I get everything. Mostly I just wanted to set down where I am right now...five years from now I guess I'll find it a little bit amusing to read all of this.

Hell Semester is almost over. I put my November calendar in with this—I can't believe I'm really going to survive it, but I guess I really will. Today is Thursday, and I only have one class tomorrow (Business Law) and then next week is finals. I have two finals on Monday, two on Tuesday, one on Wednesday, and one on Thursday.

Funny to think that when I read this again, I will have been married for several years. It's hard to imagine that now, with Jeff still being 400 miles away. We still don't know yet where we're going to end up—A**** made Jeff a ($number)K offer official yesterday, so now our where-to-live decision is down to Huntsville, Dallas, and Houston.

Just saw Jackopierce on their farewell tour this past Tuesday with Monica. I waited four years for that show. I have my signed ticket in my purse right now—I can't decide if I want to put it in here or not. Part of me wants it in my scrapbook, but I know that it will have more impact if I leave it in here and discover it within five years.

So many things are coming up in the next seven months. The wedding—which is still a church wedding—graduating (finally), and mostly just moving on. Right now I'm trying to prepare myself mentally for leaving, and sometimes I wonder if I'm succeeding too well.

Picture these names: Monica W——, Sperry B——, and Susan H——. In five years those will sound strange—I'll either have not heard them much, or will have gotten used to their married names (Monica R——, Sperry W——, Susan S—— ).

Talked to Sis yesterday—Dakota's starting to form more words. Developing more personality every day. She showed me a picture of him at his first Christmas play; he has his head turned to his side, and for a moment I could see myself in his face. We're definitely related, he and I. In five years he will be in wasn't so long ago that I held him when he was twelve hours old. He was small and did not cry; didn't even open his eyes.

So many dreams I have...part of me is afraid to put them down here because I fear I shall laugh at the silliness of myself, five years from now. I dream of finally sharing time and life with Jeff; waking up in the morning and finally having him there. Mundane things like washing my own clothes, not living in dormitory housing, working at a job I enjoy, cooking something simple for supper (I've had enough pasta in the four years I'll have been in college! Give me real food!) I am looking forward to living. Really living. Part of me feels glassed-in here; I can sense that real life is close, can almost smell it, but I can't touch it.

The last book I read was Gabriel Garcia Marquez' One Hundred Years of Solitude. I read it over Thanksgiving break, which I spent at Buddy and Shirley's house.

Sperry gave me butter cookies and a bottle of brandy& cream liqueur for Christmas. Monica and I are waiting to exchange gifts after we get back from break. I haven't seen Colter in over a year.

My seventh college roommate, Julie R——, just moved home this past week.

My roommates:

  1. Monica
  2. Donna, whose last name escapes me
  3. Bryn M——
  4. LaTisha M——
  5. Rachel M——
  6. Melissa, whose last name escapes me
  7. Julie R——

I rather dread getting my next one.

I took 21 hours this semester: Business Communications, Marketing, Bus. Law, Production Operations/Mgmt, COBOL 1, Organizational Behavior, and Managing Systems/Technology.

I can still remember how my grandfather would answer the phone; I wonder if he knows I miss him.

I hope that when I read this five years from now, I won't laugh too hard. I hope that I'll remember what it was like to make 6½ hour drives to see Jeff, remember how hard it was to fit two people into a twin bed, remember the Theta Tau house before it was repainted, and remember that I worked very very hard for the life I'll be living when I read this five years from now.

It's almost Christmas 1997. No snow as of yet, but ... well, a joyous holiday to you, young lady, when next you read this.

Amy [unmarried surname]

We like to think that we live our lives in full appreciation of both past and present, but the deeper reality is that we do not—we cannot—as attempting to live our lives with such daily oversensitivity leads to little more than sensory overload.

I remember frantically trying to decide how to write my name and address on the front of the envelope. I knew that Jeff and I would marry, but I wasn't certain at the time if I was going to change my name or not—and if so, in what fashion? At the last moment, I took a guess and scrawled down a hyphenated version of a name I didn't have yet, and wondered if I'd made the right guess.

I did.

So much has changed since the writing of that letter. Dad is gone. Monica and her husband ended up in Dallas. Susan broke off her engagement when she found out her fiancé was cheating on her. My sister is divorced and remarried; last I heard, Dakota was making straight A's in school. Sperry's first daughter is probably nearing school age now. My eighth college roommate, Michelle, was my last (and not nearly so bad as the unmitigated horror that was LaTisha).

It's hard not to feel a little ironic and saddened by the timing of this letter, which arrived almost exactly a year after my father was diagnosed with terminal cancer.

My copy of Gabriel Garcia Marquez' One Hundred Years of Solitude sits on the shelf in the guest bedroom, having in the meantime journeyed to Canada and back via a book loan to a friend. I should reread it. Collections of words—others' and your own—are as much about the writer's intentions as they are the reader's impressions of them.

The same words, read years apart, can have vastly different effects on the same person. Mine made me cry.

There was so much I did not know.


Wow. On my 20th birthday, I wrote myself a letter to read on my 30th, sealed it up and put it away. I can't begin to remember what I wrote, and now you've got me wondering how I'll feel when I open it in two more years.

Every once in a while, usually before or after a move, I break open a box filled with letters, cards, and mementos of trips and such past. The last time I performed this ritual was roughly a month ago. This time, though, I went through the box carefully. A card from my high-school girlfriend, on the occasion of my sixteenth birthday. A series of letters from Governor's School friends. Postcards from a trip to Alaska. A picture of Misty & me on the ski lift at Opryland. Amazing, the memories locked inside these items. I can almost see the younger me, recapture a fleeting impression of what it was like not to know what I now know, not to have experienced life between then and now. I keep these things as touchstones. When I go through my box, I link hands with the younger mes. The chain streches back a ways, and I feel stronger for it.

I've got letters I wrote to a friend when I worked at the opening of EuroDisney back in 92. I've also got a couple of tape recordings I made while walking through the park 2 weeks before it opened (you'd be surprised at all the places they were still working on) but I haven't had the courage to listen to the tape. It's odd reading letters from so long ago. My attitude towards various things has drastically changed. It's almost like seeing another person. Totally mind-blowing...

I just came by here to have another look at your skins tutorial (my skins would be working by now if the server would participate...) I read this entry, and I thought how amazing it was that, even though there were some things you couldn't predict, you still could predict so much about what your life would be like in 5 years. Five years ago, I was studying chemistry, in my second year, in Holland. I thought I would be an environmental scientist in some kind of teaching or government job, and buy an apartment in Amsterdam, and settle down there. Five years later I find myself in Toronto, Canada, doing graduate research in Biochemistry, still being the student I thought I wouldn't be anymore by now, an ocean away from my family and friends, and anything BUT settled. If I had written a letter for a timecapsule, I'm not even sure it would have reached me over here...