Photo: Darren Baker/Shutterstock

The Letter I Wish I'd Read When I Was 20 Years Old

by Reda Wigle Jun 9, 2016

Your heart is a quicksilver drunk swinging blind in a knife fight with the world. Don’t follow that son of a bitch and don’t trust him any further than you can throw him. Don’t trust your gut with its propensity for cowardice. Don’t trust your instincts with their varying decibels of run. Don’t trust your snake oil intuition. Trust that your blood is heavy with the history of French orphans, coal dust, white trash mystics, war heroes, and whiskey cocked criminals. Trust that you are fortified for changing tides.

You have yet to meet your truest friends — you’ll find them or they’ll find you — sick with sangria on old steps, in the backseat of doomed cars, breaking into your bedroom, in cement floored bars and skeleton sailboats filled with cigarette butts and buffalo coins.

You will never find success by anyone’s standard but your own. You will forever be short on money and long on stories. You will always have enough. You will never own a couch, a home, or a watch — but couches make you settle, home is in your bones, and clocks make you think of death. Your currency is memory.

When you are lost in any sense remember yourself as you were at five — a ferocious mullet with an underbite and cracked rubber rain boots, half full of feral and fresh out of fucks to give — she’s still there beating a bare chest and reminding you to look forward and further.

Reminder — Jersey is not only the Bethlehem of Bruce Springsteen and boardwalks — it’s an also an island off the coast of France. This will save you face-palm shame in the not too distant future.
Read Esquire magazine, so long as David Granger is at the helm — it will give you the scaffolding for what men at their best and worst, are capable of.

I promise, one day you won’t remember the phone number of the person you didn’t think you could live without.

Eye all hallucinogens with extreme caution. When your face is tear-licked and throbbing from a bad trip and you can’t remember the color of your dead grandmother’s eyes — they are woodfire brown and she smells like the ground while it’s waiting for snow. Everything is going to be fine.

Sacrifice is the most dangerous word in any relationship.

Avoid bangs, lead singers, bourbon, Pisces women, Aquarius men and the snares of expectations.

Make floss and exercise a part of your regimen. You will need these ramparts in the long decade ahead without health insurance. Additionally when you are down and out and financially compromised you can find solace in the sterling quality of your gums and breadth of your lunge range.

Don’t compare your work, relationship, fashion choices, shortcomings or successes to anyone else, especially anyone in Byron Bay, Australia with an Instagram account.

Moving back home and back in with your parents is not the worst fate you will suffer. It will humble you. It is a rare gift to see your parents up close and under the lens of adulthood in all of their failures and majesties.

Under a certain set of winds you’ll find yourself there at the same time as your wayward sisters. As a coven, with knotted hair and bare faces you will remedy the shit out of each other.

Ignore that pickled sage Chuck Bukowski and his urging to find what you love and let it kill you. Let it feed you instead.

Do not live your life with the burden of proof. When every fugitive moment, mundane or mythical, is recorded, reported, staged and lit for presentation, remember that you need no evidence that you were there. Mountains, deserts, oceans, full moons and empty bottles. The proof is the dirt under your nails and all of it was real.

Be free, tell the truth, swim naked, fight like hell.

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