Thursday, February 08, 2007

If I were to buy this sweater, I’d wrap it in red tissue paper and get into a time machine. Setting the dial to Los Angeles, 1980.
There I’ll find a 10-year-old Samsara dressed as a snake and reading the The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. She’s in the Icehouse. It’s really just a shed behind the theater where they keep the icemaker, a very loud old creature probably dating back from the 40s. But it’s peaceful and warm. The ice machine gives off heat like a fridge. She sits on an upside down bucket under the bare light bulb, content to have a moment outside the crowded shared dressing room. She’s got about 20 minutes before the show starts. I’ll have to talk fast.
She’ll recognize me. The ring that I wear and the birthmark that we share. I’ll tell her something private she never told anyone. She’ll accept that I am her future self. But she’ll be skeptical about my arrival from the future. She’s a tough little customer who assists magicians in the aftershow cabaret. She knows all the smoke and mirrors. I’ll have to produce some gadgetry, most likely the cell phone would do it. (Though I won't get any reception in 1980, that's for sure.)

I’d give her a letter with my instructions. But I’d also make her memorize it. She’s a quick study, she understands the gravity of the situation. There would be a list of names: people to avoid. Some other stuff about her family. Some lessons learned too late. Some 10 year old travails. Then to the heart of the matter:
1) Lighten up already. Feelings are like the weather, they can change.
2) Take Latin and Greek in High School.
3) Stay with Arabic in College. Don’t give in to your natural defeatism. And don’t think it will never be useful since you can’t travel comfortably in Arabic speaking countries as a woman. You will need it and you will use it.
4) Expensive schools are not about getting an education; they’re about networking.
5) Never start smoking. Never dye your hair. Both are a big pain to quit.
6) Take the internship at The Kitchen. I know it is unpaid and you will starve. But it will open doors. Waitress or bartend at night.
7) Beg, borrow and steal to buy an apartment in Manhattan. Ask Uncle Monty to help. Do it in or before 1991. Even a studio next to a crack den. Sell it by 2005.
8) Take collateral out of your apartment to buy stock in something called Yahoo. Do this before 1995. Sell it before 1998.
9) Stockpile 1940s rayon dresses. Especially in larger sizes.
10) Do not go to graduate school. During the 90s there will be money to be made. Go to Japan and teach English. Go through Berlitz and then find work on your own. Change your Yen into dollars before October 27, 1997.
11) Things will get better, but not the way you want them to.

I will tell her: if she does these things she can spend the coldest winter months smoking hash and writing poetry in Morocco, or dancing on the beach in Thailand under a full moon. She can buy her parents a beach house. She can be her own woman.
If she does not do these things she will be a legal secretary. She will type. She will photocopy, file and eventually shred documents until she is old and has forgotten everything that once mattered.
And I’ll give her this sweater, which she will love. The question is: when I return to the present, will I find myself on the beach, or in this cubicle?
Go get this sweater and give it to the little girl you once were. Yes, you can still wear it. I think it is faux vintage though. 1980 was the unicorn trend's apex, but we had nothing this fabulous.


Post a Comment

<< Home