An Email To My 17 Year Old Self

Recently I took a two week holiday to contemplate what next in life.  There was nothing wrong, I just felt stuck in a life less than what I saw for myself inside my head, and I found it aggravating. So, I thought it a good time to stop…and tram 5 stop 37 seemed like as  good a place as any to jump off.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t do much, just pottered about tuning the TV and watching Netflix. Sometimes I sat staring at a brick wall, then I got really hungry. I got into the habit of eating breakfast out. It was refreshing waking up with nothing to do except eat. Stuff like Moroccan eggs  and Spanish omelette  really made me happy I discovered and I felt quite cosmopolitan too. On the second week in between calorie counting and farting, I found myself rummaging through boxes of photos and I discovered some old theatre scripts I’d written at 17 years old. All based on my life back then, before Prozac took my generation. I thought my scripts  pretty good given I knew little about anything in my late teens. Reading them decades later I found they made me laugh out loud, they confronted me (did I write that?) and moved me in a way I can’t explain in words.  A personal diary of my thoughts and imagination through my early life. At one point I sat reading and crying like a big baby, caring not one hoot if the Jewish boy who lives next door could hear me sobbing. Reading my words felt like holding a mirror up to myself now, against my innocence lost sometime yesterday. Who took it away I wondered? Did I lose it? Yeah probably, between Circular Quay, Piccadilly Circus and Swanston Street I guessed.

My  writing had all the hallmarks of a teenager…fresh, unaffected, verbose and well constructed actually…There was a strong sense of self in the words and an abrupt honesty that I think I still have to this very day.  An aspect of my personality I admire.  There was hope, cheeky sense of humour and I found my writing quite romantic.  This really surprised me. A line I’d written really struck a chord with me. It’s spoken by the youngest character in one of my scripts. It was – The Dreams Of Yesterday Are The Reality Of Tomorrow. I said the words out loud a few times in the kitchen, feeling their sound and rhythm vibrate at back of my head.

Dreams. Reality. Tomorrow. A boy’s thoughts.

So, with those three words swimming around I sat at my laptop armed with a fruit smoothie  and started to type an email. An email from older me now…to my much younger 17 year old self, the me of yesterday.  This is the email.

Dearest Ando, Andy, Noel (all names I was called at school) you’re probably reading this email eatin’ breakfast in bed. I bet’cha mum served a bacon and egg sandwich with a hot coffee, white with one. Did she serve breakfast on a tray, the usual way? I bet she did! You could make it yourself if you stopped daydreaming and listening to Kate Bush. Daydreaming  gets bigger as you age. Best keep it under control to avoid disappointment. There are a few things I want to warn against in the future. You have the attention span of a wombat. So, concentrate!

  1. First young man try not to be so hard on yourself.  Just do’ya best, don’t worry about what everyone else is doing or thinkin’.  Your best is all you can do. Sometimes things take a while to come to the boil…just keep going, no looking back, no running in the house and remember to turn off the stove if things get too hot.
  2. Most people aren’t perfect, everyone makes mistakes. So live without them until you find someone perfect. Good luck with your search!
  3. If you get lonely then maybe get a pet. But no cats, remember your allergies.
  4. If you must get a pet I recommend a dog. The stupider the better. They are faithful.
  5. Remember dogs, like relationships must be taken for a run regularly. So stay fit…in romantic situations and life you want to be the last man standing.
  6. PS. Remember always that no one loves a fatso…So, cut out sugar.
  7. They say blood is thicker than water and I agree with that thought but…what the fuck does it really mean? Why don’t you find out and let me know?
  8. Last thought to young Noel, Andy, whatever…Stay true blue. In your choices are your talent. Respect your choices and have a dentist check up at least every 6 months. In the future you’ll thank me for telling you this.

I looked up and stopped writing, 17-year-old me had stopped listening I thought. I grabbed a bowl and packet of instant noodles. I sat eating and wondering why I had stopped listening to advice from my older self. I turned on Netflix and pushed play and was stunned to find my younger self staring back on the flat screen TV.

“Don’t give me advise @Randyandy42. I’m following you on Twitter so be warned” younger me scolded.

“Jeez, I was only trying to help. If only I knew then what I know…”

“Stop. Mister can you hear yourself? You sound like Mum. I need to make my own mistakes. Get kicked to ground, left for dead. Then I need to get straight back up and carry on. Laws of the land, must be learnt. Don’t you know that at your age? Nothing you can say or do can protect me. I need to dream for myself. Touch my own reality so I can build a better tomorrow.”

I looked at the TV screen, the younger me smiled back, dressed in a pair of Calvin Klein undies, looking strikingly like Marky Mark (Wahlberg). I observed my youthful skin, bright smile and determined eyes…a click of the remote, younger me was gone. After a mouthful of instant noodles I switched off the TV. I looked good on TV I thought…and rinsed my bowl. But, he was right younger me, @Randyandy42, whoever I am. We can learn from the past but can never change it.  We must move forward. I took off my glasses, shut my laptop and went to bed. The next morning I got dressed and went to Yellow Bird on Chapel Street and ordered a large serve of Green eggs and a cappuccino, white with one.  Yeah, it’s been a good break, catching up with me. I’ve traveled far…but there’s still further to go.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Noel Anderson has directed many theatrical productions, written well into the night when in pain, worked with a helluva lot of people and had the odd breakdown or two. Noel’s written work includes Andy Warhol’s Fifteen Minutes Of Fame and the new Australian musical Audrey Hepburn And I Consider Our Assets which premiered at the Melba Spiegeltent on 29th October 2015. You can also follow Noel on Twitter: @Randyandy42

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