When an experience kicks up those old emotions -in my case, heartache, rejection and unworthiness- there’s so much I wish I could tell my younger self.
So I did.
Dear Younger Me,
Your first love has a sacred place in your unfolding. These wounds will heal, though the phantom pain will be, at times, very convincing. What an amazing gift to feel so much for another. Tap into this heartbreak and transmute those tears into the stuff that will fortify your soul. You are full and bright and beautiful.
You have this person to thank for showing you what you need from another: Someone who will be there for you in every moment and honor you as an equal. Someone who will strive to build you up as they build themselves up, too.
This person is an important part in strengthening your spirit, for the love you seek requires a heart that knows itself.
How else will you recognize its reflection?
Wiser Older Me
What did your first love teach you? What do you wish you could tell your younger self about it? (If this question makes you uncomfortable, please feel free to post pictures of dogs in costume instead.)
“My father-in-law and I have this friendly banter going,” my friend, Stacey, explained over dinner the other night. “We like to bust each other’s chops.”
“Wait ’til she tells you about the latest,” her wife, Lauren, added. “My dad decided he wanted a new shed, and being the way he is, he had to get all of the measurements–”
“Like, all of the measurements, including the weight, so he’d know the impact on the grass,” Stacey said. “The whole nine.”
“Technically you need a permit,” Lauren explained.
“Hang on,” I replied. “You need a PERMIT to get a SHED? Just a regular SHED?”
“Yeah,” Stacey nodded. “But no one does it. Including her dad.”
“Wait for it,” Lauren smirked, raising her eyebrows.
“So,” Stacey grinned. “He got his ‘illegal’ shed a couple of weeks ago. And I decided I’d prepare a little letter from the county zoning office. It took me four hours.”
I stared between Stacey, Lauren, and this magical document, mouth agape.
“No,” I finally managed.
They explained that they had waited until an evening when they knew both of Lauren’s parents would be home. Lauren’s mom was in on the whole thing. On the chosen night, Lauren’s mom got up from watching the evening news and surreptitiously rang the doorbell, pretending someone was there. She returned to the living room, holding the letter out to her unsuspecting husband.
Needless to say, it was a slam dunk.
None of us could have ever predicted that only moments later I would need to recruit Stacey’s letter writing abilities for myself…
In the midst of discussing the many merits of Lasik eye surgery with my friends at the other end of the table, I leaned forward a couple of inches to take a sip of my drink.
“I’d do it again every year if I had t–”
Everyone turned and looked to see where the alarming *THUD* had come from. My eyes welled with tears.
“Oh my god, I’m so sorry!” our waitress exclaimed while I tried to gather my bearings.
It took me several seconds to realize our waitress had snuck up, ninja style, on my right, to clear a very, very pointy plate. Our fates collided the moment I decided I was parched, leaning forward a few millimeters…
The corner of my right eye nailed the corner of the plate she had just lifted.
Congratulations! After careful review, you have been selected to oversee my 8-year-old Australian Labradoodle, Uncle Jesse, while I’m away. Given the exceptional taste you’ve demonstrated by reading this blog, I feel marginally concerned certain you’ll be able to accommodate my dog’s daily demands.
Because I’m so confident in your abilities, I’ve attached only the abbreviated version of my 137-step guidebook. If at any time you find yourself doubting your caretaking capacity, please call one of the nineteen numbers I’ve listed in the back of this manual.
STEP #1 – HYDRATION
It’s imperative that both you and Uncle Jesse remain hydrated at all times during his stay. This includes, but is not limited to: chilled, Brita-filtered water, refreshed 6-30 times per day, washing and drying the bowl after each rotation. In a pinch, you may provide tap water; we strongly discourage the use of bottled water.
STEP #2 – NUTRITION
Uncle Jesse insists upon an on-demand supply of V-Dog kibble. If any kibble goes uneaten for more than 12 hours, please sample before deciding whether to discard.
Each time Uncle Jesse reenters your home after his mandatory nature bathings (see Step 3), he will expect a “treat” for his willingness to return to your humble dwelling. Acceptable treats include homecooked, plant-based items, arranged on a ceramic plate as follows:
Should you question your ability to select a permissable food item, I’ve drafted this reference card:
STEP #3 – EXERCISE
Uncle Jesse has grown accustomed to 5 miles of brisk walking out-of-doors each day; however, this can be broken into 2+ segments as we understand your employer refused to provide a leave of absence for this visit.
As with hydration, stretching is paramount before each session. If you find he is panting for more than three and a half minutes upon returning, please encourage him to lie down and point your fan directly on him:
STEP #4 – ELIMINATION
Assuming you’ve strictly followed steps 1-3, you can expect an impressive number of bowel movements per day. These occur in varying volume and composition during the aforementioned 5-mile walk, so carrying an array of multi-sized “poop bags” is prudent.
STEP #5 – SLEEP
Uncle Jesse is deeply committed to “total wellness” and therefore insists upon 12+ hours of uninterrupted rest time per day. Please leave your bedroom door ajar at all times. I noticed you had extra pillows on the couch. I suggest moving these to the bed while he adjusts to sleeping in a new location.
Placing towels on the bed to protect your linens will only arouse his rancor.
STEP #6 – PLAY
You’ve probably heard that most dogs enjoy fetch. Being of a highly sensitive nature, Uncle Jesse would rather remain indoors for playtime, with you sitting on the ground and tossing his toys directly into his mouth while he perches on the couch.
If you fail to amuse him, he will notify you by placing the toy between his chin and the pillows that I’m sure you have remembered to return to the couch before beginning this exercise.
STEP #7 – INTERACTION WITH LESSER BEINGS
Uncle Jesse and I are still reviewing the finer points related to the presence of any…well. You know.
At this stage in our discussions, we would both prefer if you locked any “Others” in the basement for the week as we believe it will reinforce the natural balance of things and keep all parties safe from psychological harm. We’re just looking out for your well-being here.
To maintain this intellectual agility, we enjoy practicing shake, stretch, sit, lie down, paw, other paw, little speak, big speak and “Watch the hair, huh!” on a daily basis.
Please also feel free to pass by our local Catholic church at 7:00am, 8:00am, 9:00am, 12:00pm and 6:00pm so that he might work on his pitch.
STEP #9 – GROOMING
Do not, under any circumstances, tamper with his hair, nails, ears, or teeth. If he appears standoffish, remember to say “please” before asking to pet him.
STEP #10 – TRAVEL
Should you need to chauffeur Uncle Jesse, please leave the back passenger side seat free (he will not tolerate the other side), and leave the window rolled down fully, provided the speed does not exceed 45 MPH and/or the temperature remains above 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
And not to worry, dear reader – those new lights in each room are simply CIA-approved surveillance cameras.