November 3, 2004
Well, it looks like we'll be living together for another four years. I will admit right out front here that I'm not all that happy about this turn of events. I have been working hard for the last four years to see to it that this didn't happen. But best laid plans, as they say, and here we are. Together again.
So I thought instead that I'd try a different tact. You're not going anywhere and I'm not going anywhere, so I figure it's about time we get to know each other. The fact of the matter is that I know quite a bit about you--you are, after all, the leader of the free world (or so they tell me)--but you probably don't know all that much about me. And, as a result, you probably aren't thinking about me, or others like me, when going about your daily business. So, Mr. Bush, I've decided to become a part of that daily business, by writing you these letters. One a day for the next four years.
Mr. Bush, I'll be turning 30 in a little over a week. It's interesting--people keep asking me "aren't you afraid of turning 30?" but I'm really not. In fact, I'm kind of looking forward to it. I've always felt older than my actual age. I remember back in third grade I got skipped to the fourth grade reading class. The way my school was laid out, the third grade was on its own separate floor, and to go to the fourth grade classrooms meant venturing into a part of the school I'd never been to, to hang out with kids I didn't know. You'd think that it'd be really scary for this third grader with a lisp to walk down that staircase to the fourth and fifth grade hallway. But I remember being really excited about it. To me, it meant that I was a bigger kid than everyone thought I was, which, being kind of awkward and shy and having a speech impediment, was a big deal. The truth is, Mr. Bush, that everyone probably thought that I was really kind of a wimpy, freaky kid, and, when I look back at it now, they were probably right. But back then, walking down that hallway, not knowing who was going to be in that classroom, I remember feeling old and brave and different. And it felt good.
Mr. Bush, that's kind of how this birthday feels to me as well. It feels like I'm cracking open that door so many years ago, taking a breath, and walking into that classroom. Like I can be old and not be worried about what the other people will think so much. I went to speech therapy not long after third grade (kids would make fun of me, and I asked my mom for help) and learned a lot about myself in the ensuing years. I'm not so shy anymore, or very nervous anymore either, but I still have this feeling that I'm older than I am. And it's nice to feel like I'm coming upon a moment in life where how old I feel and how old I'll be will come more in line. Do you ever feel like that, Mr. Bush? I'd imagine there have been times where you have.
It's getting late, and I still have papers to grade, so I should wrap this up. I'll talk to you tomorrow.
Give my love to the girls,
PS. Interestingly enough, I ended up befriending the one fifth grader who had been kept back in reading and had to take the fourth grade class over again. We would hang out sometimes at lunch. I remember he had a bowl cut and later on, in high school, he became a skinhead. Now he works--maybe he's a co-owner, I'm not sure--at a bar in Minneapolis. I hope he's doing well.