I still have all the letters you wrote me

Yesterday I was reminded that 2016 would be the year of the Monkey once again (my zodiac). The last time it was the year of the Monkey, I was 12 and couldn’t imagine what life would be like at 24.

Now I’m approaching that age, and it’s so strange that we always imagine what our futures will look like, but when we get there, it just feels like another normal day. We’re always waiting for that moment when everything will change and feel different, but change is so gradual that it doesn’t hit you until you look back and remember you once had those feelings at that point in time.

I logged into my old Livejournal account today because I was looking for something specific, but ended up reading through my old blog entries from high school. The last time I really wrote on there was at the brink of the start of my freshman year of college — right before it all began for me in the States. I wrote about how anxious I was for the coming changes in my life and whether or not I’d be able to move on from the status quo. I wrote about wanting everything to stay the same and wishing that I could move on without losing what I currently have.

I was really worried about doing long distance with my high school sweetheart but was ready to give it my all. I think back then I would never imagine that 5 years later I would have traveled so far beyond that time.

Despite traveling so far and feeling so different, having experienced so many more things, met so many more people and made so many more friends, I still look back on the way I felt in 2010 fondly. I really respect that I had wanted to give it my all for something I could never imagine living without, and I still have all the mementos from that time. I was never the kind of person to take really good care of stuff (you can tell from the way I have boxes on my desk that just contain “stuff” thrown in randomly, completely disorganized), but I had wrapped all the letters and gifts from that time nicely in one small package that fits on a bookshelf. Everything is still in pristine condition.

With every move into a new apartment or city, I still have the things that remind me of that time. Yes, I still have all the Christmas cards, the letters, the necklace, the strawberry-shaped cushion… It’s not a sign of holding on or not letting go. For me, it’s about being able to look back on the memory fondly and have the objects from the past represent something positive for the future. These things don’t make me sad, it’s the opposite.

We always imagine what our futures will look like, but I think I’ve learned by now that I can’t extrapolate my present to predict my future. My 12 year old self couldn’t imagine being 24, and my pre-college self couldn’t imagine the life I would have now and the friendships and relationships that have come and gone.

I think it’s great that we don’t know.