Sunday, November 23, 2014

Letter to 1984 Lance

Dear Lance,

I send this letter back to you, the person I was, from the year 2014.  Yes, you're still alive, despite your best efforts to the contrary.  I am now 48 years old, while you are just 18.

Lance, July 1983

At this time of your life, November 1984, you are reeling over your first real betrayal in Love, and have yet to meet your first Real girlfriend.  You will meet her in January at a school dance.  You will stay together over two years, and she will hurt you terribly over and over.  But when you finally break it off for good, that's when you'll meet three women who will define your adult life,  One will be your wife.

Her you won't meet until 1991, after the biggest heartbreak of your life up until that point.  I wish you would learn to relax and enjoy your youth but I realize first that I can't change the past, and even if I told you, you STILL wouldn't do it out of sheer stupidity.  Yes, I'm still currently married to the same person, and we have a wonderful daughter.  Despite your wish, you HAVE reproduced, and it wasn't as bad as you thought it would be.

In 1990, you will attempt suicide.  I know now what the underlying driver to that feeling was, and it sure as hell wasn't that girl cheating and leaving.  You know the reason now, but you don't dare admit it.

Yes, you will graduate from University, Lance.  But not the one you think.  And the courage it took to make that change was a harbinger of the courage it would take for you to make other changes through your life.  You have more courage than you know.  You're already an EMT.  You will continue that, though that too will break your spirit.

I know all of this because I'm you with many years of experience.  But I am also no longer you.  I have changed so much.  How?

Well Lance, to tell you how I've changed, I must tell you this- I know your deep dark secret.  And I know that you failed to contain it.

Because, Lance, I am now Sophie.  I am a Woman.  I look down on my chest and see my own breasts; not fake ones or rolled up socks-  I see MY breasts.  My legs are shaven and shapely (if I do say so myself,) and I wear heels with some frequency.  My ears are pierced, and I wear the hoop earrings you always wanted to wear.  Estrogen courses through my body, albeit injected estrogen.  All who know Me know your secret, Lance.  They don't know about the outfits you bought through the mail with your Burger King money, nor of how you'd dress when everyone was away.  But they know that you are different, and they know why.

All those wishes and all those mid teen tears you shed about being stuck in your body were not shed in vain.  You are on your way to being the woman you knew you were, and, God willing, I will be there someday.  But for now, I am on the path.  I have met many like myself, and so many have helped me on the way.

You will travel the world, Lance.  You will see different cultures.  Your eyes will be opened to many things and you will learn truths.  Some truths you will learn in the dust of New Mexico, while others you will learn with your feet in the Pacific Ocean.  You will shoot arrows in Sherwood Forest.  You will walk the streets of Buenos Aires looking for a bookstore, and will drink wine in Chile.  You will meet a beautiful Jewish girl from New Jersey who will grab your soul, and a wild man from Boyertown who will be your counterpoint for years, even when you don't see him.  And then you will meet your Wife, who will nurse your shattered heart back to health and share with you so many wonderful years.  And you will break her heart doing what you need to do to survive.  Because 1990 wasn't the only time you'd attempt suicide- you'll come close to death again in 2013 when your dearest friend kills herself, taking with her so many dreams.

But don't worry- you won't be doing this alone.  You will have mentors.  The old cliche is that "when the student is ready, the teacher will appear."  And they have.  Your primary mentor will be Mel, and her wisdom and wit will lead you through many traps.  She will be referred to you by a doctor who will also guide you.  There are others, like Jone and Linda (who is currently a roommate), and I am grateful for them.  That's something you and I share- we both know to be grateful, if not gracious.

I wish I could tell you a few things.  I wish I could steer you from some of the major heartbreaks you will face.  I wish I could warn you away from all that drinking you did for all those years.  I wish like hell you wrote about all these things you've done in detail as they happened instead of concentrating on self-pitying short stories.  You don't need to fight to prove yourself a man, because you aren't one.  All the pain from all those fights could be avoided if you just embraced that truth instead of drowning it with drink and self-hate.

Some things remain.  You've maintained contact with a few of your friends that you have now, though you don't see them often as you're scattered about the country.  Many of the people who mean the most to you through life you have yet to meet.  In many ways I envy you parts of the journey.  I wish I could relive some parts of the journey, pain and all.

But now I am living the Life we were supposed to lead.  Many of your friends will support you, and you will learn you have more friends than you ever dreamed.  That courage you showed running into burning buildings will inspire others, or so they will tell you.

Even back in 1984.  But you won't believe that.  No you're too busy drowning in self pity.

That's what I wish I could tell you, Lance.  It gets better.  It really does.  Stay with it and follow the dream.  I wish I could tell you to transition back before you finished growing, but you're still so scared of that feminine side.  Embrace her.  She is You- the best part of you.  Embracing her is embracing yourself.

I have found Peace.  I know that seems like such a distant dream to you in the throes of adolescence, but it WILL come.

Stay with it.


Be Well, Lance.  Be Yourself.

With Love,

November 23, 2014.

Sophie, November 2014

PS.  Before the 1986 football season, Bet the farm on Penn State winning the National Championship in 1986 and the Redskins winning the Superbowl the following year.  That should pay your tuition.  Would I lie to you?


  1. Sophie -

    There are so many things we wish we could tell our younger selves. At least you've broken through the barrier, and see that the light at the end of the tunnel is no longer that from an oncoming train.