The Poetry Shed

A Virtual Classroom
Letter from the Future

Dear Emily

Dear Emily,

I know that summer 2019 didn’t start in the best way (don’t focus too long on that unanswered text message, because it’s out of your hands), but there’s a lot to look forward to. And you should look forward to it; as I write you this letter, the world is dealing with something you (and everyone else) never saw coming. It’s scary and it’s new. It’s face masks in the grocery store, having the news playing on the TV constantly, and endless amounts of hand-washing. It’s uncharted territory.

But before all of that happens, you have things to look forward to. You just got a job at Sweet Frog, and I know you’ve been wanting to work there for a while now. You won’t be disappointed; in fact, it’s going to be the best summer job you could’ve asked for. You’re going to make a bunch of new friends, and one of your coworkers is going to be really cute. You’re going to want to ask him out, and you should. I promise it won’t be awkward after, and it’s going to get you one step closer to moving on from…well, you know who. However, you probably won’t be able to work next summer, because they’ll end up closing all non-essential businesses. Your mom will still have to go to work at the hospital, but she knows how to protect herself. Supplies will be low, so you might want to stock up on some hand sanitizer while you can. Never take toilet paper for granted ever again.

Also, I know that right now you want to skip the visit to Oregon to see your aunt but go anyway. Oregon is beautiful, and you haven’t seen your aunt in years. You don’t know when the next time will be, if there is one.

I’m sure you’re looking forward to your annual vacation to Block Island, and you should be. Your birthday falls during the two weeks you’ll be there, and you won’t be a teenager anymore (it doesn’t really feel any different though). You’ll be with your parents and your dog and the little boy you babysit and his parents, and you’ll get to eat cake and watch your favorite movie. You’ll be sad because “you know who” didn’t text you, but don’t let it ruin your day. You’re also really excited about decorating your apartment for next school year, and you’ll spend hours in Home Goods and Target with your roommate looking for the perfect décor. Just, don’t get too attached to 15 Webster. Maybe it’s better that you know now – there is a mold problem in the building. Your second apartment will be much better, even though your room is still small. You always know how to make it your own. Unfortunately, because of the pandemic, you’ll have to move out of that beautiful, mold-free apartment before May comes around. Your parents will help you and be supportive, even when you’re crying for the third time in that living room with the white bricks and the bay window because you have to leave.

Right now, though, before all of this happens, you’re learning how to play the ukulele. Don’t give up even though your fingers don’t immediately stretch the right way to play a G chord. It’ll happen, and it’ll be great. It’s also a great way to spend that time when you’re alone in your apartment next year (and your time in quarantine), and it’s a reason for you to stop being so chicken about singing at open mic nights in the fall.

You’ll be a little disappointed that some of your freedom will disappear once you get home in March, not only because of the virus, but also because your parents aren’t used to you doing your own thing all the time. You’ll rarely get a moment alone, but you won’t feel as lonely anymore.

Before I let you go so you can get back to learning songs on your ukulele, a few quick things: online classes aren’t as bad as you might expect. All of your teachers are endlessly supportive, and you get to sleep in a little extra. You’ll also have more time to read for fun. You should definitely take advantage of that. And you should hug your dog extra tight, whenever you have a chance. Actually, go find him right now, if you can, and give him a hug from me (future you).

With love,