Posted in Writing

How a Happy Birthday E-mail from My Past Self Brought Me to Tears

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In the summer of 2015 I e-mailed a happy birthday message to my future self with the use of FutureMe. I wanted it to be a few years out, but not too far in the future, so I decided on October 28, 2019, my thirty-fifth birthday!

Well, four and a half years have passed, and, as expected, I completely forgot about that e-mail I wrote. I grabbed my phone yesterday morning when I woke up and I read a few birthday texts and messages.

Then I clicked on an e-mail that said, Happy Birthday, Brian from something called FutureMe. It still didn’t register. I thought it was spam or something.

And, then, finally I read the first line of the e-mail, and gasped.

The following is an email from the past, composed on July 27, 2015. It is being delivered from the past through FutureMe.org

Oh my God, the 2015 e-mail! I sat up in bed, super excited. I had completely forgotten what I’d said in the e-mail and was ready to go through it slowly.

Much of it made me smile, even laugh, but then the end brought tears to my eyes totally unexpectedly.

Here are some excerpts from the e-mail I’d like to share with you!

Holy crap, Brian, you’re 35 today? 35??? How are you today? What’s new? I’m writing this on July 27, 2015. I’m a month away from beginning the MFA in Creative Writing at UNR. I am currently working on the first draft of your first young adult thriller, TOOTHACHE. Have you signed with an agent yet? Have you been published? You’re a year and a half out from having graduated, so are you a teacher by now? At the high school level? At the college level??

I love this opening paragraph. It takes me back to a time I haven’t thought about in a while. That summer I worked on Toothache right before I started the MFA in Creative Writing. I had so many hopes and dreams. I had such anticipation for the months to come.

I don’t really know how to format this e-mail, so here’s what I’ll do: I’ll list the ten things I hope to have accomplished by October 28, 2019. It’s okay if some of these haven’t happened yet, but I sure wish most of them have…

I like even then I made sure to write “it’s okay if some of these haven’t happened yet” so that my birthday this week wouldn’t have been a total downer if none of these things came true, haha.

1. I have signed with a literary agent.

YES, that actually happened! In July 2015 I was still hard at work querying my novels, but in May 2017 I finally signed with a literary agent, and I’m still working with her today, woo hoo!

2. My first novel has been traditionally published, or is awaiting publication.

Womp womp. Unfortunately, despite a decade of hard work writing and revising twenty novels to date, I haven’t had a novel traditionally published yet. Here’s hoping that day is soon.

3. I have graduated with an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Nevada, Reno, and I am not currently a student, in any way, shape, or form!

Hooray! This did come true in May 2018. I graduated with my MFA in Creative Writing, and I am, finally, no longer a student.

4. I am a tenure-track professor at a university or community college somewhere in the world, most likely not Reno.

Womp womp. Yeah, if there’s one thing that’s surprised me the most in the last two years or so it’s been the extreme and unbelievable difficulty I’ve had in finding full-time work as a teacher at the college level. But, again, here’s hoping I get good news on this front soon!

8. Everyone in my family is also healthy. Mimi is not doing well at this time, and she’s likely gone by now. Is Papa still with us? I hope Mom and Dad are both well.

This is when the tears began welling up, because, sadly, Mimi passed away in December 2015, and Papa died in June 2017. Worse, in July 2015, my aunt Julie was alive and well but then was diagnosed with cancer in December 2015 and died in August 2017. Five summers ago I was able to still see these three people I love with all my heart but now am no longer able to.

10. I am happy.

This was a nice way to finish the list. Sure, there are goals I haven’t met, there are people I miss, there are mistakes I’ve made, and there’s still lots of things I want to do, but I am, thankfully, very happy.

And here’s how I ended the e-mail…

Okay, well I guess that’s it for now. Keep writing. Keep looking forward. Your 2015 self loves you, big guy. If many of these things didn’t happen, don’t be sorry. And don’t give up. Right now I’m starting chapter twenty of Toothache. I have no idea if this novel will go anywhere. I have no idea if I’m just wasting my time. But I have to believe. And I really hope that you’re still believing, too.

Take care, and have a happy birthday!

Brian
July 27, 2015

What a lovely, moving way I ended the e-mail. It got me choked up to hear these words of wisdom… from me, of all people. I’ve had a long, hard road when it comes to my writing life, and it was inspirational in a strange meta way to hear this encouragement from my 2015 self.

I’m so happy I wrote this e-mail to myself. It opened my eyes in ways I didn’t expect. Yes, I am still believing. I’m not giving up. I’m going to continue working toward these dreams of mine no matter how long it takes.

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