I’ve never been someone that was appreciative of advice or readily open to suggestions. My friends would say that I gave stubborn people a bad name, but I don’t know why. Friends and family expect this of me and I’m grateful that they still love and tolerate me, anyway.
I was thinking about this particular trait, while digging up the driveway of my old family home. My parents still lived there, and they asked if I could help them fix their driveway, as they were both elderly and frail. I’ve had some experience with concrete and cement and was happy to do so.
While shoveling some of the loose dirt, I scooped up what looked like an old-fashioned milk bottle. The kind that milkman left at the front door… when milkmen existed. Wiping away a little of the caked-on dirt, I discovered that inside was a handwritten note and a small item so as it was a good time to take a break, I decided to have a drink of cold water and investigate.
It was a late spring day but the weather unseasonably warm and it actually felt downright summery, with high humidity and glaring sun, so after wiping my face of dirt and sweat, I removed the note and read it. The penmanship was crude, and it was written in pencil then it dawned on me… It was mine. Not mine, ‘now’ but mine when I was ten years old!
It was an A4 lined sheet that had lost its pristine white color and I vaguely remembered some sort of project involving time capsules. I was amazed that I remembered anything about it at all, since I was now forty years old!
My name is Timothy Green and I’m writing a letter to me in the future because my teacher said it was a fun thing to do. I like football and the color red. I like Porches and when I grow up, I want to have one so if you read this and you don’t have one yet, please buy one because they are really good. I like white ones.
It was then that I looked at the item inside the bottle and I was pleasantly surprised to see a little white 1982 Porsche 911 Carrera. It had a little ‘whale tale’ and the funky Carrera graphics on the side and after appreciating it for a few minutes, I continued to read my note to me…
There’s a girl in my class named Alice McKenzie and I like her a lot. My friends make fun of me because I’m short and she’s tall so when I’m big, I want to talk to her and ask if she could be my girlfriend.
Alice McKenzie… Now that was a girl that I hadn’t thought about for a long time. We actually went to the same high school together, but she moved away when I turned fourteen and if I remembered correctly, that was the year I finally had my growth spurt.
I thought about her and the little matchbox car that I had in my hand and reminisced about my youth. Back when I knew very little but the little, I knew, I was certain of. It’s funny but as I grew older and more knowledgeable, I realized how little I did know. Sort of ‘the more you know, the less you know’ deal.
My friends and cousins used to make fun of me because I was so wishy washy and indecisive so maybe that’s when I became stubborn, in the attempt of becoming decisive. There was a little more on the note and I decided to finish reading it.
When you get big, please buy a house with a big yard so you can play games in it and a big garage so you can keep your Porsche safe.
What a fun little blast from the past! My life had been a little stagnant as of late with nothing on the horizon. I recently become divorced but hadn’t rebounded since. My kids and I didn’t really get along as they thought I was boring and my brother suggested that I reach out for some counselling or something, as he was worried that I was suffering from depression.
Like most people, I chased money for most of my adult life and like most people, it wasn’t the Holy Grail of happiness that I thought it would be. It was this concept that I considered later that night, when I had dinner with my kids. Once, we were stumped for a topic of conversation (which we often did), I retrieved the little matchbox car from my pocket and placed it on the dining table.
“What’s that, dad?”
Asked my ten-year-old son.
“This… was my favorite toy when I was your age.”
I saw the look of wonder in my son’s eyes, so I handed it to him then watched him appreciate it. Even my fifteen your old daughter seemed intrigued long enough to unglue herself from her phone and asked,
“Did you have it stored away?”
“Sort of. I left myself a time capsule that I forgot all about and when I was fixing your grandparents driveway, I came across it and a note to myself.”
This made her so curious, that she actually put the phone down on the table!
“What did the note say, dad?”
Both my kids watched me like I was interesting, and I didn’t remember the last time that happened and instead of responding, I handed her the note that I kept in my pocket. She read it twice then said,
“I can’t imagine you being… Paul’s age! Who’s Alice McKenzie?!”
Juliana asked with a little schoolgirl ribbing, so I told my kids what I was like when I was ten years old. My interests… what I was good at, and I found myself animated and happy, like a huge weight was lifted from my shoulders!
My kids and I ended up having a great evening and I allowed my son to keep the matchbox car. He had already googled pictures and car sales sights, so he knew how much they we worth, which was quite a lot. Even I surfed the net till the wee hours of the morning, finding the perfect one. Not that I would buy one!
The impact of finding the message in the bottle was profound and I found myself… happier, then one day, while scrolling though Facebook, I came across a post from my old high school group, from a woman named Alice Geddes. She had posted a few interesting stories and photos in the past, but I never really thought much about it.
I did a little ‘stalking’ and found old school photos on her profile. Photos of Alice McKenzie. After a little more snooping, I discovered that she had been married, had three kids but unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you looked at it) she was in the process of getting divorced, after being separated for more than a year.
I didn’t know why but I sent her a message… and a GIF of a message in a bottle.
A year later, I was driving my kids to Alice’s home for a family get together in my little white Porsche. It was a bit of a journey as she lived in Camden and on acreage, but I only really traveled to Sydney to spend time with my kids, since I was able to work remotely from Alice’s hobby farm.
In the last twelve months, my life and my personality had been transformed all thanks to a letter that I had sent myself when I was ten years old and being the stubborn person that I was, I couldn’t let thirty years be my downfall.