Yesterday was kind of my five-year anniversary with Warren. I say kind of because obviously relationships are messy (ours especially was) and things didn’t all start out right then. And because I think it’s unfair to give those first three years the weight of the last two, because fighting back and forth between together/in-love and apart/afraid-to-look-at-each-other is not the same as some straight conscious coupling.
But anyways, I was going to write a sappy Instagram post on it, when I drafted out the below (you know your captions come with drafts too, don’t judge):
Today is kind of our five-year anniversary? It’s when this all started anyways, thank goodness. Sometimes I wish I could go back to 22-year-old Alice (and 23, and 24-year-old Alice) and tell her that all those obstacles- the campaigns and the living in different countries- they won’t last. What will last is you and Warren. But then I think, maybe I did, kind of? Cause otherwise, how was I so brave?
As I wrote that, I thought, you know what? No, this isn’t an Instagram post. This calls for an all over the place, nonsensical mess of a blog post all about myself. (My first one! I’m a real blogger now!)
I think about this a lot. What if the Alice I am now—pretty self-actualized and in possession or actively pursuing almost everything I ever dreamed of – could go back to my younger self and just say, “Hey, it’s going to be okay.”
I’d go back to the Alice in high school and tell her that it’s probably better she was chubby all throughout high school. It helped her care more about being a good friend, a good student, and being kind, rather than being cool. (Not because I didn’t care about being cool, but because it just wasn’t going to happen.) It kept her from partying too much (okay, or at all; I probably should have partied more) and it helped her learn to love herself, even when she didn’t feel like any boy ever would.
I’d go back to the 19-year-old Alice that worked SO hard to lose 47 pounds (!) and say, “Okay, you don’t need me. Can you stay this focused forever? Also, watch out for that Obama man. He’s going to give you back 13 of those pounds that you’ll never lose again because getting older means AN EVEN SLOWER METABOLISM AND LIFE IS THE HARDEST.”
I’d go back to the 20-year-old Alice that went a little boy crazy and tell her which Obama boys she should not make out with because then every time they’re insufferable on social media, she’s going to have to remember that she let him kiss her and hide her face in shame. But also, I’d tell her to calm down and relax- it wasn’t time to find a soul mate. You’ll be okay.
I’d go back to 22-year-old Alice and tell her that feeling alone in a new city is something every woman should go through, just so she can finally start to grow up a little.
I’d go back to 23-year-old Alice and say, “hey, you’ll be okay. Being heartbroken is good for you in a tragic, beautiful way, and now you’ll be able to talk to your daughters really wisely. And, this is a secret, but you’re going to end up with him so chill out on the meltdowns.”
I’d go back to 24-year-old Alice and tell her that everyone who’s saying you have too much on your plate are wrong. Ella will be your angel and now absolutely is the right time to find your baby (dog). Also, stop spending so much money! You have a dog to raise!
I’d go back to 25-year-old Alice and tell her not to drink that much if her birthday is on a Wednesday, for crying out loud.
I’d go back to 26-year-old Alice and tell her that still being in college may feel embarrassing, but who gives a shit what anyone thinks?
I’d go back to 26 ½-year-old Alice and tell her that just next November, your mom will only have one more chemo left and she’ll be planning a trip to watch you try on wedding dresses.
And then, what would I say to myself now? I guess that’s what I’ll be finding out next year.
But I do really feel like there’s this brave part of all of us that we can’t really tell is there (most of the time), but that keeps us moving every day. It’s the part that lets you get kissed by an awkward data nerd. It’s the part that lets you believe you’re going to marry someone even if you just broke up. It’s the part that believes in magic.
And it really is magic, all of this, isn’t it? Here’s to recognizing that pain can be beautiful and that love and joy can rise from the moments that seemed like your worst. And to trusting that little gut instinct that seems so optimistic. Because I have this theory that it knows best.