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The box from 1995

May 26, 2015

Private. Keep out. Not to be opened until December 31st 1999.

Pity the poor teenager (me), who on a rainy Tuesday sometime in 1995 stuffed an envelope (adorned with Britpop stickers) with a bunch of photos, letters and lists, and imagined her future self opening it on the eve of the Millennium to see how much of the ‘Stuff I will have done by the time I’m twenty’ list she could tick off, some four years later.

Back in 1995, at the time of writing this list, I was sixteen years old, and probably couldn’t fathom a time I would be doing anything more interesting on a New Year’s Eve than watching Clive Anderson tell jokes I didn’t quite understand on BBC1, whilst sipping a warm can of coke. As it turned out, what I ended up doing on the Millennium was little more exciting than this, but it did at least involve alcohol, and nothing could have been further from my mind than opening up a dusty brown envelope to tick off the lustful imaginations of a clearly quite introverted and somewhat mad teenager.

To be fair, most of the activity on my ‘to do’ list appears to be boys from my school, or celebrities, most of whom are now married with children, or dead from drug overdoses (I could add the word ‘respectively’ here but the two are actually interchangeable), and my greatest ambition, it appears, as a sixteen year old is to go to Glastonbury and ‘meet Ian from Have I got News for You’. I am quite disappointed with myself.

The reason I know all this is because this weekend I went into the attic at my mum’s house, to see how many of my two-decade old Sylvanians have been massacred by mice, and if there was anything valuable up there that I could sell so that I don’t have to do this tedious thing called ‘work’.

Once I had said a quiet prayer for the souls of the beheaded badger family, and sulked at the lack of Ming vases and first editions Harry Potters, I rummaged through an old box containing files and projects from my schooldays. Imagine my intermingled horror and delight when I found a rusty old metal box, locked but keyless, which I knew for a fact I’d put up there in 1995, and forgotten about ever since. With careful cunning and expertise (for which read an old screwdriver, a hammer, and much brute force) we managed to jimmy it open. If 1995 had a smell, this was it. Nostalgia flooded back as I found my old homework diary (doodles professing my love for Damon Albarn far outnumbering any attempts at writing down homework activity, apart from one notable entry – ‘English: Write something about Chaucer’), a travelogue written during a particularly hormonal week-long school trip to Italy, and, weirdly, a tape measure.

I soon discovered the reason for the tape measure when I unfolded a chart on a sheet of paper, painstakingly filled in, for each month over the course of a year, noting with unnerving accuracy my exact weight, and the various bits and bo(o)bs that sixteen year olds find important to weigh and measure, and agonise over when they don’t go up or down satisfactorily. It seems I was unhappy about weighing eight-and-a-half stone. I’d like to go back to my sixteen-year-old self and shake her. Tell her to write something about Chaucer, stop agonising about her non-existent bingo wings, and attempt an ambition bigger than ‘going to at least ten Blur concerts’ and ‘writing a song’. Although that last one is quite cool. And I think I’ve been to seven.

I’d like to tell her that she will never get off with the ten boys she’s listed as she will “just die” if she doesn’t get off with soon, and that she’s really quite glad about that now, even though most of them have turned out to be quite respectable. Not all, but most. I’d like to tell her that exam results aren’t everything, but that her handwriting really needs some work. And I’d like to rip that chart into a million pieces and tell her that one day she will find the fact she weighed as little as eight-and-a-half stone quite incredible, and to enjoy being a really-not-fat, frizzy-haired, care-free teenager for as long as it lasts, because y’know #YOLO, and soon she’ll learn things she never wanted to about student loans, and rusty old boat steel, and she’ll have far more boring things to write lists about.

She also won’t open that box on New Year’s Eve 1999 (she’ll be getting stoned on hash cakes on a boat in Cornwall), and she won’t for a second regret all the things she never ended up doing. Except for that song. And there’s still time for that.

From → Blog

One Comment
  1. Ah, nostalgia! I would cringe if I found anything I wrote when I was 16!
    What surprised me most Alex, is that you’ve ‘only’ been to 7 Blur concerts. I’d have thought it was at least double that!
    L x

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