A letter from me, at 10 years old

I got the most amazing and wonderful package in the mail today. It was from my childhood friend Kate (who I’m still friends with). Her mom moved and there were some boxes of Kate’s things, and in one of those boxes was a letter. A letter from me, to Kate, when I was 10. It wasn’t a regular letter. Not me asking Kate how she was at camp or anything like that.

It was a letter where I was a librarian. And, in many ways, a writer (if we’re defining writer as “someone who makes stuff up, and then writes it down”).

If I ever need to write a scene where someone receives a letter from their 10-year-old self, I will know how to make them act: It made me say, “Oh my god” repeatedly, made me cry, and felt like a large tube of black construction paper had been placed around me. I saw nothing but the letter for a few minutes, and I felt eerily like my 1982 self was standing right next to me.

How did 10-year-old me KNOW? If you had told me, in 1982, “You’ll grow up to be a librarian and a children’s book author” I would have looked up from Bridge to Terabithia, wearing that rainbow shirt, and nodded.

(So why did I work retail after I graduated from college? What took me so long to figure it out?)

Here it is. A letter from me. (Kate lived on Oak Avenue, I lived on Knickerbocker.)

This is my voice. It’s the same. This might mean I have the mind of a 10 year-old, or that I was a very mature preteen. Or it might mean our self, who we are, is always there, etched in our bodies, and it’s our job to be true to that self and not let our lives get sidetracked.

Me: apparently I was always meant to be in love with books and libraries (and also typewriters and being funny). Apparently I was always a huge goofball.

Thank you so much, Kate, for sending this (and also for being game to and co-conspirator in so many shenanigans of childhood).

And you know what? Reading really does give you the answers to all of your questions.

Comments (15)

  1. LoriO August 28, 2013 at 9:15 pm

    I have no words to describe the true awesomeness of this. Also, you are not just a librarian, you are Chief Librarian.

  2. Julie August 29, 2013 at 6:19 am

    Well, technically, “Cheif” Librarian, but we’ll let it go.

  3. Sylvie August 29, 2013 at 7:42 am

    You had that whole library set up in your room, books cataloged, with the date stamp, etc. and spent hours playing “library”. We lived at the library…..I remember, years after you had grown, just stopping in there, and one of the older librarians said “Aren’t you the woman with the little girl who would always come looking for you in the adult stacks?” Truly, how wonderful that you have finally recaptured your passion.

  4. Wendy Myers August 29, 2013 at 12:47 pm

    Truly awesome post, Julie. Thank you for sharing. I wish I had a letter from my 10 year old post. I may have to try to recreate one. I love that you are who you said you’d be. Wise, very wise 🙂

  5. Wendy Myers August 29, 2013 at 12:48 pm

    I meant 10 year old ‘self’. Duh.

  6. Liz Woodbury August 29, 2013 at 3:48 pm

    Best. Thing. Ever.

    “Reading, it gives you answers to all of your questions.”

  7. Julie August 30, 2013 at 9:46 am

    And now when Zuzu plays library, it just makes me so happy. Thank you, mom, for bringing me to the library so much!

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  9. Damon Sean August 30, 2013 at 10:22 am

    What a wonderful discovery! Ten-year-old insight is the clearest most honest view of the world. Even in the imaginations of such a mind the truth is always discoverable.

  10. Carter Higgins August 30, 2013 at 7:25 pm

    Does Zuzu still use the windshield scraper for a barcode scanner? Was that her?!

  11. Julie August 30, 2013 at 7:29 pm

    Yes! Zuzu still uses the ice scraper as a scanner. BEEP!

  12. Kate August 31, 2013 at 10:53 pm

    How could I NOT send you that letter when I found it? What a gem! And yes, that was absolutely your voice at that age. Playing library was one of our favorite games and when we got our hands on that date stamper, well, that was a happy day!

  13. Julie September 3, 2013 at 8:30 pm

    THE DATE STAMPER. That thing was the best.

  14. Telly Halkias September 10, 2013 at 4:03 am

    Amazing. Everything I have read of yours over these last years: It really is your voice, straight from childhood. What a nugget to unearth after all this time. Letters to others tell us more about ourselves than perhaps any other medium. Hopefully your children will come to love this one day, too, and see their Mom in those words.

  15. danielle September 12, 2013 at 5:01 pm

    This really is amazing. (And goofy!!) I think you’re right about that self always being the same. And that voice developing early in a number of forms—it’s just a matter of whether we nurture it or not.

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