Dear Amber (aged sixteen)
It’s me – Amber! I’m twenty-six now. I haven’t grown any, I’m sorry to say, still the same boring 5’3″ if I round that final inch up. I wanted to write you a letter to cheer you up, and to tell you to hold on.
In fact, I think that I can even make you laugh. Get this: last Friday I went to the ten-year reunion for the school that you just left, and explained to a gaggle of riveted teachers the precise logistics for acquiring donor sperm and using it to conceive. You’ll be astonished to know that one of them described it as ‘fantastic’ and they all seemed genuinely pleased for you. Later, I downed three glasses of wine in quick succession whilst repeating the words Mrs G-. Donor sperm. to amused friends. Go ahead and giggle.
You miss that school. They did a lot for you, from the headmistress eating lunch with you every day and teaching you how to make a cup of tea, to the drama teacher who let you be the star of the class play purely to lure you in more than once a week. They told you that you were clever, that you were worthwhile, that they liked your jumper on ‘dress down’ days. One of the first things that your old English teacher asked when you saw her on Friday was ‘Do you still write? You had SUCH a talent for writing’.
Yes, Amber, you do. You do still write.
I know that you are very unhappy right now. I wanted to tell you that it does get better.
Here are some of the highlights:
You are still with Kirsty, still deeply in love. Brace yourself because you will have a horrendous break-up in a few years time and almost marry a banker in a bizarre ‘F- you’ kind of gesture, but true love prevails and you lure her back with three Greek dogs and a date at a pizza place. Yes – it’s as wild a story as it sounds!
You retain friends from your school days (I lunched with Corinne just a fortnight ago) and gain many more. You travel independently and spend a lot of time in Greece with hippie vegan animal-lovers who think like you do and love you very much. They have a special name for you – Amberakimou. It translates to something close to ‘dear little Amber’.
You buy yourself a horse eventually and have a brief but glorious time as the owner of a warmblood. It means a lot to achieve that dream, even though you do decide that horse-owning is impractical as a young adult. Instead you have a dog who loves you more than life itself, who reads your mind and knows what you are going to ask of her before you ask it (and she usually complies).
You are a (moderately) successful adult and you can function in the real world! I know that seems unbelieveable given that you can barely drag yourself out of your bed right now but I promise you that it’s not always going to be like that. Ten years on, I have a job and colleagues that I love, a life that I love. I get out of bed every morning with a smile, a genuine smile.
Finally, you have children. That’s right – you’re a mother! Of your graduating year you are the second to have children and the first to have deliberately planned them. You have twin boys and they are wonderful; they enhance your family in so many ways and make you happy every day.
One of your sons is named for that headmistress that taught you to make tea.
You still have a trudge ahead of you but keep walking, because eventually you’ll get to be me.
With a fondness accrued over time and distance,
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