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An ode to the girl who I was; one year ago, today.

I remember your struggle to find the light in the midst of stagnancy and the preseason of autumn in Iowa. Growing up scares you, it scares me too, but I reassure you that today is the beginning of one of the most transformational years of your life.

As someone who is afraid of swimming in the ocean, it baffles me how often you ride the waves of highs and lows. As one who was never taught to swim, you will overcome each wave. You are going to experience a handful of firsts and the emotions that come with — grief from the loss of a friend, traveling around the United States with dad, cliff jumping in San Diego, holding Wesley Schultz’s hand and looking him in the eye during Ophelia and you’ll think back to January of 2019 when his voice saved your life.

The only constant is change. Given your current circumstances, this may be hard to believe, but you’ll once again crave this slowness and stability.

September will bring you to Hazel, but Hazel will bring to you to California in January. I do not want to spoil the ending, but the life you two experience together is magic. Hazel is your wish upon a shooting star that summer night in July; I know you remember that meteor shower. Isn’t it beautiful how you planted the seeds by dreaming to the sky and trusting the stars?

I promise you, when you are ready, you will be seen. And when that moment arrives, the first words that he will say are, “I am sorry.” The stars, ocean, and the moon were listening to you those late, sleepless nights. I promise you, he will apologize; not once, but three times. And that, that will change everything.

You are going to fail. I hope you do not let this discourage you, because you’ll learn to perceive failure as redirection.

As the twenty-two year old version of you, my advice is to trust your gut feeling about San Diego. You are going to soon write San Diego in your journal under places you aspire to travel to in Hazel. Before you know it, it’ll become the place all of your love songs are about.

No you are not non-symptomatic and covid is going to affect you for three weeks. And I know you'll miss Abby but walk to her; don't run, because you do not win against the crack in the cement and you’ll roll your ankle for the first time. Leave Ventura immediately and say no to men who offer you food. And be prepared to live out of your suitcase for eight months, because you will leave home, but I promise that you will miss it.

The light will come back into your eyes and leave an everlasting glow. From ear to ear, I smile as I write these words to you, because I wonder what our twenty-three year old self would say to me, today. I hope it begins the way this letter did.

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