yup, this is me at nine months
You will never be more innocent than you are right now. Your blue eyes see a world that's perfect and full of love and colour. One day you'll learn that not everyone is kind, the world isn't perfect and rainbows aren't always outside your window. But you'll never completely lose the part of you that wants to believe this. You'll learn many lessons along the way that will put that to the test.
In Grade One you will meet your first best friend Tutun. You won't care about the colour of his skin or that his East Indian background is so different from yours, you'll only see a boy much like yourself. Continue to accept people this way and you'll live a life free of colour lines.
Each year your imagination will grow until it can barely be contained in that head of yours. You'll be called a dreamer, always accept it as a compliment. Those who use the word condescendingly only see in you what they lost when life got in the way.
In Grade Two you'll have your first crush on a girl named Shauna and write her a love note. You'll pass it to the boy who sits between you, who will then stand up and read it out loud to the class. This will be one of the first lessons you receive in public embarrassment, and although it won't be your last it'll make the next time just a little easier. Hold your head high as they mock you, it's never wrong to love another. Never.
Your childhood years will turn out to be some of the best in your life. You'll play with your cars in the dirt, dig for China, climb trees and even run away from home. But you'll never stray far because there's no amount of love greater in the world than the love contained within those walls. You will find escape in everything creative, learn how to express yourself through writing and drawing, and discover wonder in space and endless oceans. This will stay with you always.
One day you'll ask your mother to stop writing notes to you on the outside of the paper bags she packed your lunch in, it is then you'll realize you're growing up. Many many years later you'll speak to her of the regret you feel for asking this of her, she'll smile and tell you she understood. You'll still feel like shit, knowing one day when she's gone you'd give anything to have those notes back.
In Grade Four you and your friend Sean will like the same girl. You'll feel jealous as hell when Jessica pays attention to him and not you, yet find when you ignore her that she'll do anything to get your attention. When you ask mom why this is she'll tell you it's just the way girls are.
You'll grow up to find that some things never change.
In your twelfth year your parents will divorce and childhood will be forever left behind. This will be life's first harsh lesson in change, but also a necessary step towards becoming the man you are today. Through your teen years you'll see the affect that alcohol and drugs can have on the lives of some of those around you, and you will choose to avoid it. You'll also realize that, just as you have your way of dealing with this dark period in your life, people have theirs as well and should not be judged for it.
When the time for your high school prom comes around you'll ask Aurora Dicella if she's going. When she tells you she doesn't have a date make sure you ask her instead of Andrea, who you'll only end up leaving there. This decision may not change your life but it could certainly make the evening a lot more enjoyable.
Teachers will have a significant influence on you. One will be the object of a childhood crush, you'll be forever grateful that when you tell her you love her she says she loves you back instead of breaking your heart. Another will open your mind further to life around you and give your written words wings. You'll always hate math but find it more bearable with Mrs. Redmond to distract you who, by the way, will be the one who sparks your attraction to redheads.
You'll be shy and awkward around girls when dating and wonder if you'll ever have sex. Be patient, it'll happen and your first time will be memorable. At twenty-one you'll fall in love for the first of only two times in your life. You'll be intense, she will be cold and break your heart. If you have a second chance don't change a thing, this girl will only lead you to the one you're meant to be with. One year later you'll find yourself venturing across a vast ocean and gazing upon things you only read about in school, it will be one of the happiest times in your life and the girl will be but a memory.
You'll feel lost through your teens and twenties, but what you won't realize is that most people you know will feel the same. Twenty years from now you still won't know what you want to do but remember it's who you are, not what you do that defines you. Spend most of your time developing yourself and not your career. You'll find that wealth doesn't always equate to happiness, everyone else isn't always doing better and some of the kindest people in society are those who have less than you do. Always give them equal time and never look down on them, you may be there yourself one day.
When the girl you met on the phone dating service calls you back four months later saying she had misplaced your number but you can call her back if you'd like, do it. She'll end up not only being the one you walk beside but your best friend as well. Nineteen years later you'll still be holding hands and looking back on that moment with a smile.
You will never be driven by money but by passion, the same curiosity you possessed as a boy will open your eyes to the beauty and wonder in everything around you. You'll fall in love with smiles and words, gaze endlessly into clear starry skies and get turned on by thunderstorms. These things will captivate you in ways that many will never understand, embrace this in yourself and don't ever wish to change it.
In 2008 you'll make a bad decision at an intersection that will change your life and your character more significantly than anything you've ever experienced. It will be a tremendously emotional time for both of you but in the end you'll emerge with a new outlook on life and a greater understanding of others. You won't be sure where it's meant to take you but don't overanalyze it, just accept that it was meant to happen. You'll get the greatest happiness from helping other people; give of yourself as you're able but don't let it consume you.
During this time you'll know more single women in their twenties than you ever knew when you were dating, proving the Universe has a sense of humour. You'll also become incredibly philosophical and finally find peace in knowing that some things must run their course no matter how hard they are to understand at the time. You'll realize that every decision, every thing that did or didn't happen has lead you to where you are when you write this letter. There won't be much you'll want to change, a sign that some of life's harshest lessons have taught you the most.
Throughout your life you'll want everyone to like you. Not everyone will, and you'll find sometimes that the harshest criticism from one will resonate more loudly than the highest praise from many. Don't listen to that voice, chances are it's coming from someone who feels the same.
Although you'll find it tempting, avoid comparing yourself to others. Many who seem well-off would give anything to trade their troubles for yours.
Let your inner child run loose and pay no attention to those who would have him sit in a corner. Speak your mind. Love unapologetically and out loud. Eat your vegetables. And always, always make people wonder what you're up to.
PS: When you and your brother think about bringing the snakes you caught into the house...don't. They'll only get loose and you'll come close to not seeing your tenth birthday.