Four years ago as an assignment for Mr. Troung’s AP Psychology class at Henderson High School, I had to write a letter to myself. My memory of this is a bit blurred; I remember putting it off longer than I should of, then regretting putting it off when it washed over me how cool it could have been to receive a really well thought out letter from 17-year-old Tyler when I was 21-year-old Tyler.
It’s a bit comforting to know that 17-year-old Tyler went through the same vicious cycles of thought that I go through today.
I also think I remember putting $20 in the envelope, so 21-year-old Tyler could buy beer, but I could also just be remembering having the amusing thought of putting a $20 in there.
Right now, the letter is still unopened and 21-year-old Tyler is broke and really hoping that 17-year-old Tyler came through with that money for beer. Additionally, I am curious and a bit (read: very) nervous to see what I had to say to my future self.
Am I a disappointment now?
Have I changed dramatically, to a point where my two perspectives differ so drastically that I can’t even relate to myself?
Is this going to be the most embarrassing thing I ever write?
Probably. 17-year-old Tyler definitely didn’t think that I would be divulging his feelings to the Internet in real time. And yet, here we are.
9:34pm: I open the letter. My heart immediately starts racing. Two initial observations: the letter is handwritten and I did not leave my future self $20. Bummer, but my penmanship hasn’t changed that much over the years, which makes me smile. I still haven’t read anything. That starts now. I’ll be writing in regular font, while 17-year-old Tyler will be in italics. Names will be redacted as 21-year-old Tyler deems fit. Here goes nothing.
Monday, August 31, 2009
No “Dear Tyler,” or any of that bullshit. This kid gets straight to the point. I like this kid.
This is the letter you wrote to yourself in high school. You did it for Mr. Truong’s AP Psych class. But you waited to really do it until the first night of your senior year.
Oh fuck. This makes sense. Please take this as proof that I am reading this in real time because right now I am panicking at my keyboard. I had originally thought that I wrote this to myself during the Spring of my Junior year (when the project was assigned). Apparently, I procrastinated all the way through Summer, which completely changes everything that I thought this letter was going to be.
Earlier, when I mentioned redacting names, I was worried about what 17-year-old Tyler might say about my girlfriend Junior year. It was my first relationship and in the midst of my first regular make-out sessions, I might have oversold my feelings for a girl that I didn’t want to embarrass in the present.
But the Summer of 2009 is when I fell in deep fucking love. That sick kind that catches unsuspecting young romantics and makes them do crazy things like skip watching the Phillies in the World Series in favor of cuddling through a Wes Anderson movie.
My thoughts on the potential contents of this letter have now shifted from “It’s going to be so cute to see what I thought back then,” to “I’m terrified but also may be able to identify where it all went crazy.” Maybe it’ll just be really sweet.
Fuck. Writing this out is either the best or worst idea I’ve ever had. And we are only one sentence in. Real time is horrifying. I read on.
I think that that is a good thing though. This Summer changed who I am. And whether that change was for better or worse, I feel like the version of you that is writing these words right now has a much better chance of being relatable than the Tyler of just 3 months ago.
Oh man. At least I was eloquent. But this is absolutely terrifying. Also, I just separated the pages- there’s 5 of them. Strap in for the long haul. I’m shaking.
To start, I’d like to say that no matter how hard I try to avoid it, there will most likely be some moment during this letter that you will think to yourself, “I can’t believe I said that.” Just know that I tried my best to be myself and no one else while writing this.
WAY TO COVER YOUR BASES TYLER. Good looking out for your future self.
Although there are many things running through my head now- how senior year went, what college I am at, what I am doing, who I am friends with – I feel that there are many more important things that I would like you to know, rather than spending the entirety of this letter in nostalgia.
To answer your questions: Senior year was great, I’m a student at Temple, I am interning at SiriusXM Radio in New York, and I am still friends with the good ones. Also, it’s comforting to know that I have been misusing hyphens for four years now – they make writing so much more fun.
First, I hope with all of my heart that you are happy. And if you aren’t, I would like to recommend changing pace, but I have no idea what is going on in your life right now, so I really have no room to talk.
Dude, you’re the man. Can we hang out some time? I’m not that happy right now, but I’m doing way better than I had been. And as for changes of pace, I am going to London next semester, essentially as a change of pace due to my unhappiness, so really you were on point. Way to be Tyler.
I don’t know if you still do, but as of now, I have a journal that I write down events, feelings, and ideas in. I hope that you still do this, and if you don’t, dig up your old ones, maybe you’ll be inspired.
I’ve been journaling all summer and it makes me way happier. Tyler, you knew what was good.
One of the main reasons I started keeping a journal was because I possess a great fear of forgetting things that were a great influence on my life. That fear has shifted from people and places to forgetting feelings and emotions that I feel as I’m writing this. I have been thinking lately that there may be some feelings and moments that just don’t happen when you’re older.
You’re so right dude. And I still have those same fears. I’m really glad I did this.
Because of this, I am including a journal entry I wrote last night, my final night of summer. Or at least part of it.
Oh no. Oh no oh no oh no. This is bad. I remember that night. Too well. I really don’t want to read on.
Please read on.
The story actually begins the Saturday before school:
“After work, I went over to [redacted]’s house. We watched the end of the Phillies game and listened to music and talked. I talked about how the next day was my last day of Summer. And how I had no idea how I wanted to spend it. And how I was worried for my last year of high school, and how I didn’t think there was anyone in my grade worth connecting with. When I left, she hugged me and didn’t want to let go. And while we were hanging out on the couch, she hugged my knee. And it made me really satisfied, full, happy inside.
Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Tyler Lauletta’s introduction to the feelings commonly associated with the term “love”. I swear this is not where I wanted this article to go. But we’re here, in real time (it’s 10:09pm right now) and 1,300 words deep. So buckle up.
I’d like to apologize to all the girls in my grade whom 17-year-old Tyler just semi-bashed. You are all wonderful. I was just having my moment.
It’s things like that I want to remember. Those kinds of feelings. I don’t know if those still exist when you’re older. I left, drove home, and we talked for another hour and a half on the phone before I went to bed. Another thing I am not sure happens when you are older.
Those things don’t happen when you’re older Tyler. But I think they do for some people. And I think you might find them yet. Regardless, thank you for writing those things down. I miss getting all aflutter when a girl hugs my knee.
Sleep came, and after that, my final day of Summer. I woke up, showered, and went to church. At church I thought a lot. About what this Summer was to me. I came to the realization that this was my last Summer where I would be going back to high school, going back to a building, going back to Henderson. Continuing on that train of thought, I began thinking that this was the last time “Summer” was something really really special. After this year I will be going back to a campus. And after that, I will have two weeks off my job and that will be that.
Nice sentiments, but I have to call myself out on a couple things. First off, comma splices everywhere, which to me serves as proof that old habits die hard. Second, it’s comforting that I used the phrase “continuing on that train of thought” back then, because I still use it today. That gives me a feeling of validation for some reason, as if through that colloquialism, I proved that I stayed true to myself. Finally, try not to be so dramatic.
So with that in mind, the fact fully came over me that today, this day, and the next 240 or so to follow, were very important to me. Any one of them could be the last day of what “childhood” is – I could become an adult at any moment. I love being a kid. Adore it. Love how things change, but how others stay the same. Love my friends. Love my place in the world, and my journey to find out more about it. Wow. This is good. This wasn’t in church. This was just now. If I ever fully grasp my place in the world, what more do I have to move towards? I want to always continue on that journey. That is a big part about why I love being a kid.”
–written in journal, Sunday August 30, 2009
That last statement, where I start with “Wow”, I remember that. A simple epiphany that most youths must have, when they realize that their complaints of wanting to have it all figured out are silly, because if you have it all figured out, what are you living for? I’m happy I got to show it to you in real time.
That said, I am a bit terrified as I am seeing the first concrete differences in myself, but to be fair I knew it was coming. I am so cynical now. This kid is so hopeful. I wish I could get some of that back.
We are out of the journal entry and back into the letter now. I like that 17-year-old Tyler was able to work a frame story into this; it’s as if he knew I was going to write about it, and wanted to make sure I had to explain myself.
That day went on to be great. I played frisbee with a bunch of people, and went to Jimmy Harris’ end of the year party and had a lot of fun. After the party I went to [redacted]‘s again. We kissed for the first time. I was excited for what was to come there. And today that all changed. Can that happen when I’m older?
First and foremost, props to Jimmy Harris for always throwing a great end of the summer party. Second, I like that I called it an “end of the year” party; I think it’s telling. Finally, 17-year-old Tyler forgets how to speak in logical sentences when he’s thinking about kissing pretty girls.
But don’t we all?
The brighter point is that the party gave me a renewed faith in my class, something I had been lacking all summer.
Again, props to J-Hair for all those parties.
Couple more quick things. I think a lot now. I really hope you do too. It makes me crazy sometimes, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. A lot of it is due to me reading “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” this summer, which is another reason I was glad I waited to write this letter.
17-YEAR-OLD TYLER YOU ARE THE MAN. Zen is still what I consider to be my favorite book. And you were aware of your over-thinking at 17. 21-year-old Tyler had no idea that you were aware of it. That means that I can’t blame it for my unhappiness because YOU WERE HAPPY.
Holy shit. Keep going.
I hope you still hold yourself to a higher standard, and don’t let other people acting like assholes turn you into one yourself.
*Looks shamefully in mirror*
And I hope you still think about Happiness, Contentment, and Satisfaction. And strive for all three.
This was a question that I used as a line on girls but also a real philosophical quandary that I wrestled with a bunch. I would ask a girl three questions in succession:
- Are you happy?
- Are you content?
- Are you satisfied?
I realize now how “Philosophy 101” this is, but that was some deep shit in high school. And I still ask myself these questions. Right now, I’m not happy, not content, but sliding into satisfaction; it is the most dangerous possible combination. The goal is happiness and contentment, while never being satisfied. At least, that’s what I’ve come up with.
I am very glad I wrote this, regardless of what you think when you receive it. I hope life is good and that things work out.
I’m glad you wrote this too. It scares me how mature you are; it makes me think I haven’t come a long enough way since. But that may just be the nature of things.
Play music. Play frisbee. Love. Think. Talk. Laugh. Find a girl.
I need to do all of these things more than I currently do.
And be who you want to be and be happy.
Damn. Anything else?
Don’t stand back and let it all be.
17-YEAR-OLD TYLER CLOSED WITH A BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN QUOTE.
And that is it. It is now 10:49pm. Some closing thoughts…
- That went much better than expected. As soon as I realized the day that I wrote it, I was horrified that this would become a soapy love letter about a girl. Instead, I just mentioned knee-hugging, which is kind of awesome. And I got a kiss so WHAT’S GOOD?
- It terrifies me how close my thinking is to that kid’s, but how different our perspectives seem to be. Further, I am a lot happier of a person now than I was just six months ago. If I had found this then, things would have been way worse.
- If this is embarrassing (I’m pretty sure it is) then fuck you.
- Everyone should write letters to themselves.
- I don’t know how many of the people that read this blog are people who I know really well. I think it’s the majority. You probably know me more intimately now then you ever had thought you might. I’m sorry if this makes you uncomfortable. I’m still the same me.
Thank you to Mr. Troung for making this possible. I doubt that this is what you had in mind when you assigned this assignment. Regardless, I’m glad it happened.
It is now exactly 11:00pm. I want to edit this, but part of me is afraid that it takes away part of it’s integrity. I still might. You’ll never know, but I will.
I have to keep some secrets.