A few nights ago, my mom handed me a stack of emails and letters that I sent to her when I was 21* and travelling around Australia and Southeast Asia.
“Oh great,” I said when she gave them to me. “I can read for hours about how carefree I was, and how I didn’t have a thing to worry about.”
Except that when I started reading them, I realized that’s not at all what they’re about. My aprés-pubescent ramblings mostly focus two topics:
- my sadness over the guy I left behind and his quick recovery from my departure, which means he had a new girlfriend about 20 minutes after I boarded my plane
- and my stress over money.
Here is, perhaps, my favourite excerpt from one of the emails I sent whilst on this whimsical and wild journey:
put a grand in my canadian account pay off my visa and then deposit the rest in my australian account perhaps the bank can help you out. can you do this as soon as possible it is very important for me to have access to all my money i feel more comfortable that way … i need all my trip money.
Maybe it’s the fact that this reads like one of those money spam-scams from Nigeria, but you can almost smell the desperation emanating from it. Like the stench of the Ghost of Emails Past.
So then why is my memory of that time so different? I remember not having a care in the world. I remember wonderment and reckless abandon. I remember skydiving and kissing drunk strangers.
If that’s what I recall, then why do my emails (and they’re almost all like this) read like I’m in prison and I’m begging my mommy to wire me a few bucks from my offshore account so I can buy smokes and chocolate bars from the canteen.
I mean, look at this picture. It’s not like I wasn’t eating well.
With 13 years perspective (plus one kid and a whole lot more responsibility and security), I’ve learned a few things after reading these emails:
1) The last 10 years learning how to write were well spent. Did you see that abysmal punctuation? I wept real tears when I saw I bad it was. (In another email, I actually spelled stalking – as in ‘to stalk’ – like stocking. *shudder*)
2) I’ve always been stressed about money. It’s my nature. Or my nurture. But probably both. It will probably be something I will need to work on for the rest of my life.
3) You don’t remember the money you spent, but the time you had. Please don’t take this to mean that you should charge up thousands of dollars on your credit card so you can go on a drunken orgy around Australia. Just take it to mean this: Slow down. Breathe deep. Yes, money matters. But you matter more.
* Yes, she kept them for 13 years. I come from a long line of pack rats. FTR, it’s weird to read emails you wrote that long ago. It’s super embarrassing to hear my early-twenties voice in my head. That girl did not have her s**t together at all.