A Letter to My Younger Self

Lil Rachelle in Ilocos Sur, Philippines

In a few years, you would fly on a TWA airliner to join your parents in the United States, rather sad, dare I say even upset, that you would be leaving your beloved great-grandmother, Lucia, who took care of you in your mother’s absence.  But when you were on the plane, you somehow had this idea that you were embarking on a great adventure, and later, you learn there is even a moniker for it–citizen of the world–one that you would feel aptly describes the role you were supposed to step into when you left the Philippines for good.

You would hit the books most of your life in your hometown of Pittsburgh, PA until your twenties, when you would spend most of the years after college having roommates and misadventures and working in your dream job in a city you weren’t completely sold on, even taking it for granted, until it’s 20 years later, and you’re still here. Many times you would want to quit San Francisco, but you just couldn’t quite pull the trigger.

You would fall in love before you turn 30 and lose your job and man in one year.  But you would travel to Paris at the end of the year with a ragtag band of your two sisters and two of your friends from high school and college, so that you would return to San Francisco, not only tinged with sorrow,  but also the joie de vivre of that magical city.  You would clean up after the party you had in your twenties and start figuring out in your thirties how you would want the rest of your life to look like.  Your Paris gave you the spirit, and you would try to recapture and infuse it.  You would tell people what you don’t want.  The things you would love most–music, writing and your family and friends–are your saviors.

You prepare for your forties so that you become the entire package.  You tell people what you do want and who you are for someone to meet you at that similar place–one who will love, recognize and accept you for who you’ve become at this point in time.  You learn to love and take care of yourself more passionately.  You’re less selfish, kinder and more forgiving.  You see the difference between falling in love, being in love and love itself, which means sacrifice, stretching and enlarging one’s heart for someone else, putting their needs before yours, compromise and attention (qualities that by and large characterize your parents’ own marriage of currently 44 years that while for years you promised yourself you would never want, is essentially a verity you’ve come to accept and maybe even embrace).

You believe true love will find you because you have a better understanding of what it is, not simply the romantic notions that spring from pop songs and Hollywood movies, but also the changing faces of the moon in shadows and light, shades of gray, cyclical endings and beginnings that test one’s faith in whether it could ever be sustained.  For all the experience and wisdom you’ve gained, you haven’t really cracked most of life’s mysteries.  And that’s okay because your life still remains an unfinished work.

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