Dear Teen Me;
I know what you’re thinking.
I’m so sick of living in this small Montana town. Get me out of here.
But stop. Listen to me very, very carefully. Why? Because I’m you. Yes, you. Only you’re now 39 years old and 20+ years gone from those lazy, quiet, small-town days where doors were left unlocked at night and kids roamed in clumps, without the watchful eyes of parents, on bikes in the summer and sleds in the winter. Right now, you’re not appreciating this. You’re bored. Tired of the repetition, of seeing the same faces day in and day out, of wondering what life is like beyond that lake, on the other side of those mountains.
Trust me. In places far away from those majestic blue, snow-capped mountains you wake up to everyday are lots and lots of people and noise. There’s chaos beyond that beautiful, crystal clear lake where you currently spend your summers romping in shorts and bare-footed along rocky shorelines, swinging from ropes into a river lightly dotted with boats, bald eagles swooping from trees in search of fat freshwater trout. Instead of endless stretches of golden prairies speckled with grazing cattle, you’ll see cars and buildings cluttered and ugly, metal and glass and steel. And the night sky you see now—so full of stars it sparkles like a black sea littered with diamonds—will not follow you when you leave. The sky you see in Southern California—where you’ve lived for the past eleven years—is bright with a hazy fluorescent glow from an endless buzz of city lights that never go out. The stars are few and scattered and dull. Instead of air that smells of cherry blossoms and young pine in the spring, of wood burning stoves in the winter, of wildflowers in bloom in the summer, you’ll smell exhaust and hot concrete and fast food.
It seems you can’t get done soon enough. You’re counting the days when you get to pack up your car and bolt south, away from the boredom, the same faces, the same routine. Please stop. Take a good long look at the natural beauty you call home. Feel the warmth of those familiar faces who know you by name and watch out for you when you don’t know it (or don’t think you want it or need it). Appreciate the sense of community, don’t scoff at it. And embrace the boredom and the sea of names who embrace you.
You’ve heard it from others. Now hear it from me. The grass is not always greener on the other side. At 39 years old, you’re dying to go home to “The Big Sky State”, “The Last Best Place”, “God’s Country”. And you’re still too many years away from making it happen. Think twice before you go. Unpack that car and remain where you belong, where you’re meant to be. Where, when it’s time for you to finally leave this place, you want to sit and watch your last sunset.
You, Me, Us…
Fleur Philips holds a Master’s Degree in Fine Arts from Antioch University, Los Angeles, and a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Montana. She attended the University of Oregon in Eugene where she was awarded placement in the Kidd Tutorial Creative Writing Program. After a short-lived acting career (she was a “featured extra” on Steven Spielberg’s Catch Me If You Can), she completed three manuscripts. I Am Lucky Bird is her first novel and was selected as a general fiction finalist for the 2011 Book of the Year Award from ForeWord Reviews. She’s currently working on her second novel which will be released in the summer 2013. She lives in Upland, California, and when she’s not writing, she’s cheering for her son in his athletic endeavors.