Dear Melissa

It’s no secret that I love to write letters. Anyone close to me has likely received one, whether it be for a birthday, graduation or heck, just because.

But perhaps what I haven’t shared is that I frequently write letters to myself.

Sometimes it’s to remind myself of how fortunate I am. Other times, I’m sad or distraught, and I’m looking to make peace with myself. Regardless of the reason, I’m so glad that I’ve done that in the past, and that I’ve continued to do so.

One letter sticks out, one that I wrote over five years ago, after a long talk with one of my best friends. I was in Rochester, where my parents live, driving back to their house from a girl’s night with my best friend, Melissa. We had been in deep conversation about my latest heartbreak, one that had been difficult for me to move on from.

I don’t recall how late it was, but the roads were empty, and my headlights were the only things illuminating the trees and fields out in the rural area where my parents live. My beloved Frank Sinatra CD was on, and as always, I was lost in the sound of his voice.

“Taller than the tallest tree is, that’s how it’s got to feel, deeper than the deep blue sea is, that’s how deep it goes if it’s real…”

His words captured me. In that moment, I felt free, self-fulfilled, and confident. The first thing I did when I got home was write a letter, this time, in my journal. I remember passionately writing the words as they came, a short, but direct letter that would likely remind me of the certainty I felt in that particular moment.

I was just 20 then, unaware of what the next five years of my life would bring. After college came love, chaos, and a lot of moving around. Now, I’m here, living in Wilmington, N.C., almost divorced, with my dog Russell.

If you had asked my 20 year old self if she would have predicted the path my life has taken, she’d probably say no. In fact, she’d probably be floored at how the past five years have went. While some things wouldn’t have been a surprise, (still friends with Melissa, still love the Phillies, still writing), some things, definitely, have been a shock.

Honestly, she probably wouldn’t even recognize me now, and maybe wouldn’t like some of the choices I’ve made. But if I know anything about that girl, I know that she was a big believer in the good that can come out of even the harshest of truths. As said, even if she didn’t like it, she would have respected making bold choices in the effort of being happy, as difficult as some of those choices have been.

Which brings me to today. Lately, I’ve felt a pull back towards a feeling I thought I had long since abandoned – that fear of the unknown, that uncertainty of the future. For those of you who know me well, know that I’m cocky- probably too cocky for my own good, which makes these particular feelings even more unsettling.

So after work, and a brief stop at Harris Teeter, I came home and for some reason, that drive under the stars came to mind. I remembered the clarity, the certainty I had in that moment, and it all came rushing back to me. I scrambled to my bookcase to fetch yes, that old journal. I flipped open the first few pages, and there it was – the letter I had written all those years ago.

“Dear Melissa,

Today you realized something very important. You need to respect yourself more. You need to follow your own rules. It is very important that you remember how you feel right now. You need to own up to who you are, choose to be happy, and do whatever it takes to accomplish those things. 5 Things You Learned Today:

1. You only want some things because you cannot have them.

2. People need to earn trust, respect and love.

3. Just because you want something does not make it that way.

4. Reality is all around you… don’t look away.

5. You continue to be scared of who you are – own up already!!”

I flipped through the next few pages to a variety of heartwarming things. A song my Aunt Me used to sing me at bedtime, lists of things I loved “good stuff” versus things I hated, “not so much”, people I admired, and finally, something that really choked me up, a quote I had scribbled down from one of my dearest friends, Lane.

After a heated discussion about love and relationships (this was sometime during college), I was talking about how things weren’t working with a guy I was dating. Without even thinking, I said exactly how I was feeling, something to the nature of- “I’ll have better luck in relationships when it’s for real.”

Lane almost bit my head off.

“Stop,” he said. “Don’t say, ‘when it’s for real’. This is real. Right now. This is your life.”

I wish I could pick up the phone and remind him of that quote, but he’s currently being awesome in Sweden. Doesn’t matter, I know that even if he couldn’t remember the quote, he would stand by his words. I know he would tell me, as he always has, that this is my life, my happiness, and my future.

Maybe five years from now, I’ll read this post, and feel the same way. I’ll repeat again to myself, “Melissa, it is very important to remember how you feel right now.”

I’ll come back to this moment. I’ll remember sitting on my living room floor, updating my blog with a personal post for the first time in months, trying to soak up as much clarity as possible, from words I wrote so confidently, just five years ago.

Maybe then, I won’t be so surprised at how enlightened those words have once again made me, because hopefully, in the next five years, I will have lived my life with those words in mind.

For now, I’ll continue to live “for real” and write in that old journal. And yes of course, I’ll crank up the Sinatra.

Some things never change.




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