To That 15-Year-Old {My 30th Birthday Post}

Dear Me,

Am I twice what you are? Not quite, although you’re half my age. I see what’s going on inside that head of ours, once you get past the poofy bangs covering it up, because I still remember all those thoughts you poured out to Cerilene late at night. Go on, she’s in that special tin that Aunt Linda gave you at Christmas. Yes, I know all about that journal you named after a Sister Hazel song.

2000 Crystal, I’m 2015 Crystal.

A few days ago, you celebrated one of the most exciting nights of your life when your big brother’s basketball team (and because Creswell is such a small town, your future sister-in-law’s brother’s team, too) won the state championship. You freaked out appropriately in the stands, and then on the court, along with what seemed like your whole town. You stayed up later than you ever will minus labor and delivery (which, by the way, is coming in seven years). You felt so proud to be from Creswell, to be Jonathan’s sister, to be a Bulldog.


Celebrating the big title a few weeks later at the community center, proudly wearing our state champions shirts

You don’t know it now, but that feeling of belonging to a community in such a tangible way is rare. You take it for granted, because you’ve grown up in the this small town your whole life. In fact, I know you dream of getting out, changing the world. Spoiler: you do get out. You do see the world.

But on those lonely nights when your husband is gone, and you heart longs for anything familiar, you’re going to drift back to that night in Corvallis. You’re going to replay the 4th of July parades in your head. You’re going to wish for that security of community that wouldn’t allow you to skip class without ever making it to the driving range because you got caught at the gas station by the owner who called your parents. You’re going to long for that same sense of belonging for your own hometown-less kids.

In the words of a yet-to-be-written-so-you-really-should-beat-Trace-Adkins-to-the-punch-because-it-will-make-you-rich song, you’re gonna miss this.

Here are some more shockers:

That boy you’ve had a crush on forever? You’ll kiss him at your wedding like you’ve always dreamed. Kind of. Does his cardboard cutout count?


Speaking of weddings: yours is coming about 15 years before you originally planned, and to a guy you now detest.

You know that boy in choir? The one who weirds you out and whom your best friend Jessica is constantly trying to warn you about before your paths cross in the hallway so you can dive into an open classroom and avoid all contact?

I hate to break it to you, but he wins the ultimate argument that you two are made for each other. Go ahead and gag for a minute, I’ll wait.

Because in a little over two years, he’s going to be more important to you than oxygen.


Outside Olive Garden right before Nick left for boot camp, August 2003

This boy is going to morph (slowly, but surely) into a man who still keeps your senior picture right above his gear shift 12 years after it’s taken.

“Because, I just want to remember exactly what you looked like when we fell in love.”

Piano and singing are your life right now, and you aim to make it big in the classical music or CCM markets. Sorry, but this dream drastically changes form when you get married and go to a college-in-the-boondocks who doesn’t have your desired music major. So you switch — and you find a career that you absolutely love.

Still, I know you get burnt out sometimes on the choir concerts, the rehearsals, the endless hours of piano practice. Just know that several years down the line, when you get a chance to re-visit your dream college and sing with the choir again, you’re going to cry, missing the beauty of it all. Someday, you’re going to miss the thrill of performance, and you’re going to wish more than anything that someone had taped your solo concert at the Hult Center.

Never fear: though you get your bachelor’s from a college you hate (and in a non-music-related field, no less!), you’ll go back to your first collegiate love in a roundabout way to get your master’s degree.

So to recap:

1. You marry a former enemy, not your childhood flame. You willingly have children with him.
2. You are not the next piano sensation. In fact, you (gasp!) teach piano instead. But most importantly, you write and get paid for it.
3. You live in a place where the Ducks mean nothing. (Another gasp, or maybe a choke).

What matters to you now — well, that changes, too.

  • Then: how fat you felt. Now: how you feel when you run.
  • Then: getting perfect grades. Now: social justice.
  • Then: never letting anyone see you sweat. Now: making sure the whole world sees you when you cross a finish line.
  • Then: a perfectly organized schedule. Now: feeling your child’s chubby hand wrapped around yours.
  • Then: what other people think of you. Now: Okay, this one hasn’t changed. You’re a work in progress, right?

There are things that you take for granted now, events that seem so commonplace, but in reality, they’re once-in-a-lifetime events. So when late nights at Mac Court wear you out, just know that someday you would give anything to hear the whole gym cry, “Luuuuke” again. When your dad hollers for 5/16 of a glass of water, don’t roll your eyes. When you’re jet-lagged beyond belief on the savannahs of Africa in the middle of thousands of zebras at sunrise, don’t wish you were back in your own bed. When your grandma henpecking your grandpa makes you cringe, realize that someday the memory will make you smile.


I can’t lie: some things in your future just stink. Like September 11, and the way a war starts on your 18th birthday, the sound of bombs on the TV newscast in the background as you blow out your candles. Twelve years later, there’s still no end in sight, and you will live with the constant back-burner fear that the war machine will someday call on your military husband.

But that little toddler who loves to eat your Berry Berry Teen Spirit: she’s going to light a fire in you (is deodorant flammable?), so much so that you’ll eventually decide that the best way to spend your life is advocating for orphans. In fact, on your 30th birthday, you know deep in your soul that you would turn down a one-way ticket home to America if it just meant that a boy code-named Marv could find his forever family.


Your deodorant-eating sister. Thankfully, she DOES eventually move on.

(Side note to readers: will you give me the best 30th birthday present ever and share this video far and wide? Okay, thanks! Resume.)

In a little over four years, you’re going to be honeymooning with that former enemy. A song will come on, and you’ll hear a line that says, “I still remember/When 30 was old.” You and your teenaged groom will look at each other and laugh, “That’s because 30 IS old!” Nick will point out that on your tenth wedding anniversary, you will both be 29.

“That’s almost 30!” he says. In disbelief, you agree that it’s scientifically impossible that either of you will ever reach 30.

Though Nick is many good things, on this issue, he is an idiot, and so are you.

You do eventually turn 30. And it’s even better than the 30 you imagined.

One Response to “To That 15-Year-Old {My 30th Birthday Post}”

  1. JanMarch 19, 2015 at 8:22 pm #

    Great blog entry… It has got me wondering what I’d write to 15 year old Jan (or 18, if we’re talking halves!) If only we’d known then all that we now understand – but that’s the beauty of life’s continually unfolding journey!

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