Dear Teen Me from author Margaret Pearl (LUSTY LITTLE WOMEN)

Dear Teen Me (with the “m” as a giant heart):

Margaret (center) with her friends Veronica and Samantha, before prom.

Margaret (center) with her friends Veronica and Samantha, before prom.

You’re tall. I mean you’re really tall. You’re so tall that the doctors don’t have a height / weight chart that goes tall enough for you. To say you’re “above average” is an understatement when you cash in at 12 inches over the latest national height statistics for women.

Something you probably already know: that’s not going to go away. Here I sit, my feet still hanging off the end of the couch 13 years after you got placed in the very back, center of the marching band yearbook photo. (Remember that? You almost died of embarrassment—not because you played the flute in marching band for 3 years, but because the cute boys in percussion were at least 4 inches shorter.) I’m still hitting our head on doorways and finding ways to shrink all of our pants a few inches so they become high-waters. I know, I’m sorry. I also thought that we would be able to fix our laundry issues as an adult. Turns out it wasn’t just mom’s washer/dryer.

The bad news: Your height makes you feel awkward at prom—you are going to go solo to every dance, FYI—and you’ll never really get to slow dance because you feel too awkward towering over the boys. (See prom image—you, sandwiched between your tallest friends Veronica and Samantha who were wearing 3-inch heels.) You’ll also spend your teen years slouching, wishing you could get rid of such a noticeable characteristic because, as your Spanish III teacher said when she made you stand up to demonstrate the conjugation for “really tall!”: “Tu eres altisima! Altisima! ALTISIMAAA!”. In short, your life is lived constantly compensating for something you can’t control.

But the good news: Two things are going to make your height an asset instead of a liability. 1) You’re going to fulfill your dream of moving to New York City when you are 18. There really are people from all walks (and heights) of life here, and they are going to help you feel like you belong, and like maybe there are bonuses to standing out in a crowd. And 2) Your little sister is going to shoot up like a weed and the two of you are going to gallivant around that big city at your full height, brimming with confidence and finally being able to muster up the courage to date guys even if you tower over them.

Grown-up Margaret with her sister.

Grown-up Margaret with her sister.

Here is a list (feel free to embellish with the little hearts you’re so fond of adding to notes) of all the ways you’re going to benefit from being tall:

- You can reach the tippy top of every odd cabinet in your odd New York City apartments (be careful, however, that you don’t reach too far and bump into a critter!)

- You’re a knockout in your long wedding dress (and any other empire waisted long dress – “legs for days!” a New York City homeless man will tell you when you’re 25 years old)

- You get called back for second interviews more frequently than you thought possible because you “stand out”—I guess being memorable isn’t all that bad, huh? And in the economy you face after grad school, this is something you should be grateful for.

So I know being ALTISIMA! sucks royally now, but there are these reasons your height rocks (and a hundred more that I don’t have space to list!); it’s all going to turn out wonderfully.

By the way, here’s a picture of you and your sister in 2014. Look how happy you two are in all your 6’3” glory! Your sister is amazing, and your teenage self (kind of) knows that, but I’m here to tell you that she is the best person on this planet, especially for height insecurities. You share the bond of crazy parents, love of kittens, and, of course, being 6’3” and having feet that defy all the size charts at Macy’s. She’s going to be a constant companion after you stop being mean to her during your senior year of high school, and pause long enough to realize that you can’t imagine life without such a wonderful sister. When she comes to visit you in NYC, make the most of those times, and be sure she helps you with the mouse problem in the apartment you live in when you are 23 (she’s going to grow up to be a vet and she’s good at these things!).

xo

Margaret

P.S. Your husband is going to be tall, but there’ll be short guys along the way so you really appreciate it when he comes around and you can finally wear (kitten) heels.

P.P.S. When you sign all of your friends’ yearbooks “Maggie Pearl, Author” and they laugh at you, keep smiling. Your dreams came true!


Ulysses Press, June 2014.

Ulysses Press, June 2014.

Margaret Pearl is an avid reader of classics and a hopeless romantic who loves nothing more than traveling the world in search of scrumptious wines and cheeses. She studied writing at New York University and lives in New York City with her husband and their two cats, a skinny tabby and a fat black and white. LUSTY LITTLE WOMEN is her first novel.

She is also very tall.

Learn more at margaretpearlbooks.com and connect with her on Twitter @mpearlbooks and Goodreads.