March 15, 2018
Dear fifty-year-old Juan, or JC, or whatever you go by these days,
First off, how do you have so much shedding hair at twenty-seven? Mama has almost no hair, and your father isn’t hairy too. Get it together, man! I’m getting fed up cleaning after myself, driving myself to paranoia and buying a Roomba!
How are you doing? Heh, I haven’t asked myself that question, but I’m hoping you’re just fine. By this time, we’re finally done with our TB meds and free from all lung ouchies. (Ouchies—pffft, can you hear me now?) Have you written the next great American novel (written by an Asian) yet? Did you get a Pulitzer for your novels? I have this idea of a Fight Club but with dogs, you know, called Dog Club I’ll be pitching to thirty-three-year-old Juan. Man, he’ll be pissed—why he didn’t think of that sooner. Ha-ha!
It’s pretty cold right now in your room, even though it’s been an hour since you turned the AC off. You just finished watching The Room, and you just finished your bowl of cereal. You were working on a manuscript, and you weren’t feeling editing those forty-seven pages. In other words, it’s just a normal Thursday night.
You were thinking how cool and shiny your new all-purpose boning knife was (or is, if you still have that thing with you). You were dying from your sinus, but it’s my fault because I skipped spraying antisinus juice the past couple weeks. You were feeling pretty anxious about culinary school. How did that pan out for you, by the way? Are you the new Marco Pierre White now? (I cheated, just so you know, since I forgot his name. Ha-ha!) Did you get to open your new bistro by a lake? Well, I just hope you’re cooking for yourself and the people you love.
I suppose you’ve just gotten up and decided now to make waffles for your son Juan Miguel and your daughter Vittoria (who may or may not be dogs). I hope you’re happy with how you fought tooth and nail for those names, ya wanker. You were talking with this maths teacher you met off a dating app now, and you were feeling pretty good about her. Did you get to marry her? I damn hope you did. I’d be very disappointed if you didn’t. You haven’t met someone like her in a while.
I suppose you’re back in your desk right now and starting yet another great American novel or your first Filipino novel. (Though I suspect you’d even consider writing anything but that since you suck butt at Filipino.) I hope you’re starting on a new spy thriller called Jake Deaethe (totally not a Jason Bourne ripoff, nope, no siree) or something cooler sounding. That sounds right about awesome. I hope your ideals are still well intact after that decade of writing smut so you could fund for the publishing of your magnum opus. I don’t know how many times you’ve written ass, or bum, or smegma, or sanitary napkins before you got to your magic number.
Life’s pretty bleak for me right now, and I suppose you know why. Not unless you developed early onset Alzheimer’s after all those “nights alone,” namsayin’? I gotta tell ya, there are so many times I thought my number was up. We’ve had so many spills, your calves are just littered with scars and dark spots. (Oh, and by the way, do remember to buy some riding gear for your thighs, if you haven’t yet.)
The years 2015–2017 were not the best, my dude, if you could recall. Heck, it hasn’t been all that great since 2008 when, at seventeen, we decided we wouldn’t live past twenty. And then twenty came and we kind of just winged it and even got ourselves busy, life-wise, and the thought just kinda slipped our mind.
The next thing we know, we got to twenty-three, and that was the year we met whom we thought was the love of our life. Friggin’ Angie. Man, we loved her, right? Loved her so much, our joints ached, we didn’t get much sleep, but we were all the better for it, right? Remember that time she farted so hard, she woke herself up? Ha-ha! We loved her all the more and just peppered her with kisses and snuggles the rest of the night. Heck, we were gonna ask to marry her by December 2015. Oh man how time flies. And then she just got out and left. That stung pretty bad, didn’t it?
By twenty-five, we were a rudderless ship. We kinda just coasted and even got to dating Jecca for a year. She was something else, you know. We did love her, but it never really felt right not being ourselves. We were just an uncouth person getting balled up because we thought she’d leave us if we were ourselves. Wish you’d tried harder, bucko. Wish you’d make her feel special more. Things would probably be different.
Remember how you always said that quote you read off the Internet over and over again to “turn women into literature”? Well, I couldn’t write anything now. It just feels disingenuous to be writing off that. I know, I know, it’s just an excuse, and I’d be better off if I just got my head down and write.
Things got really dark for us. We were just really close to leaving a brain slushie on our wall at twenty-six, when we were alone with your dad’s pistol. That was the longest two inches we’ve covered, buddy, and you’ve done a couple marathons by now. I hope the grays changed colors for you, man, I really do. I know they have, for better or worse.
Remember how we found God somewhere west? Or maybe you’re still looking for him now, who knows? He’ll probably be disappointed in us, but that’ll change. Things always change in time, but his love won’t—or so you’ve heard.
I don’t know why I wrote you this letter, but I just want you to know, you’re my hero. I’ve made a lot of mistakes in the years 2008–2017 (and maybe beyond), but I’d be damned if I don’t do them all over again. Man do I look up to you. I look up to you and think of you and see a big (hopefully friggin’ buff), hairy ball of love like you (or we) always are. I look up to you as a guy who’s got his cojones straight. I look up to you like, and just—well, I just do.
I know how you just kept on getting up from bed every single day and keep working and adapting and never changing yourself. I’m proud of you for that. I’m proud you never lost all your passion for what you love doing. I hope you got to take lots of pictures of people and maybe even got threatened for stealing shots.
I’m still pretty unsure now, at twenty-seven, where I’m supposed to be. To tell you honestly, I don’t see myself past thirty, and if I don’t make it then, I’m just talking to air now. I sure hope I’m not.
More than anything, I’m just scared to find Mama not there when I wake up. That’d be my undoing, I’ll tell you what. She’s been there for us for how long we remember, and I hope you get to kiss her every day and tell her you love her every day. I better start doing that sooner than later.
I wish I could see you sporting that Walter White skinhead and goatee and wrinkles to boot. I wish I could see you open your diner or shaking some guy’s hand while receiving your Pulitzer. I wish I could see you putting your arm around your boy’s shoulder and just talk with him the way your father didn’t. I wish I could see you see your daughter off on her wedding day. I just wish I could see you look into that damned math teacher’s eyes and say you’re immeasurably happy and that you love her with all your being. I just wish I could see the man who I thought I’d grow up to be. I wish I could see just how happy you are now, even if you didn’t finish that next great American novel.
It’s 12:44 a.m., and I feel I’m just droning on right now. I’ll see you when I see you, my man. ’Til then, I’ll just keep on working, just keep on finding ways to be happy.
P.S., If you haven’t heard me say it by then, I love you, my dude.