Saturday, November 30, 2013

Baby Sarah: The Time Capsule Edition

On the morning of Black Friday 2013, I was greeted at the breakfast table by my mother very suspiciously telling me she had something for me. She said she'd been holding on to this something for quite some time and that it was now time to present it to me. From a tucked-away corner of our documents/loose change/mysteries cabinet, she pulls out a periwinkle-blue piece of magazine paper, postcard sized, emblazoned with the message, "Do not open until _____ (Today's date) 2013." In what looks suspiciously like gel pen, "November 29th" was written on the line in the handwriting I knew to be middle-school Sarah's. (And yes, for the record, I had hand-written in the comma that the template left out between the date line and 2013.) The logo at the bottom of the page showed this was clearly some feature from American Girl magazine, and the unblemished purple star sticker holding the page closed on the back side showed that this had literally been sealed since whenever Baby Sarah filled it out. I ripped the sticker in half carefully and unfolded the page.

Inside was a combination form letter/mad lib for AG readers to fill in all of their predictions for ten years down the road from [today's date], 2003. Unsurprisingly, this letter is full of gems. Also unsurprisingly, I will reproduce it in full for you below. The bits in italics are Baby Sarah's handwritten additions to the form letter. The signature at the bottom was, for the record, written in perfect cursive - right down to that stupid cursive S that no one uses. And finally, the bolded words are those which American Girl embellished with funky colors and shadow effects! Enjoy.

Date: November 29, 2003
Dear Sarah (your name), 

Today I am 11 years old. My friends Ali, Brianna (Bri), Jessie, and Ashleigh (not a typo), and I love doing all sorts of things, such as walking to McDonald's after school on PBA days. What I'll remember most about 2003 is finding out that I could no longer go to All Saints. My biggest accomplishment of the year was being Student of the Six Weeks on the 1st grading period of the 03-04 year. My favorite book this year was Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix! And by far, my favorite movie of 2003 was Agent Cody Banks with hottie Frankie Muniz!!! In ten years I predict I'll be living in on Notre Dame or St. Mary's campus. I hope to become an editor & author. The friend I'll most likely keep in touch with is [two girls, names omitted because let's not be weird, to whom I have not spoken since about 2011 and 2008, respectively]. One of the goals I hope to accomplish by 2013 is being Valedictorian of the Class of 2010 @ LHS. I also hope that in ten years, someone will have invented ...that's hard! I don't know. - that will make life much better! 

[Note: I crossed out that last clause with my gel pen because it didn't apply to my answer. Of course.] 

For now, what I love most about being 11 years old is my life! 

[Note again: Here I was sure to cross out the magazine-provided period at the end of the sentence, since I had written in my own terminal punctuation.]

See you in ten years! 


Sarah Cahalan

P.S. (anything else you want to add) Mom thinks I should marry [guy friend] - did/will I? :) 

So, just was was the case with the first and second Baby Sarah posts, I'm most surprised/impressed here by just how little has changed about me over the years. In the very first question requiring anything more than name and age, I'm already over-explaining everything. My friend's name is Brianna, Baby Sarah says, but we call her Bri - better explain that! Ashleigh, meanwhile, is a rather unusual alternate spelling of the hegemonic "Ashley" - better point that out to future readers! It's troubling to note that since I would obviously remember and know that the name of one of my 2003 best friends is just spelled unusually and not written incorrectly, Baby Sarah seems to have foreseen that this letter would reach a wider audience than just Future Sarah. I'm so proud. 

The next two answers Baby Sarah provides are, perhaps unsurprisingly, mostly depressing. Fun social time is going to McDonald's (though, hey, don't knock it until you've known the joy of a half day followed by a walk to a McFlurry), and the year's most memorable event is the finance-induced shutdown of my school. Way to report the hard news, Baby Sarah. You are bleak. 

That my biggest accomplishment of the year is an academic award should surprise absolutely no one at all. Moving on. 

Clearly, I had a solid hold on 2003 in terms of valuable entertainment. Were there books released in 2003 other than Order of the Phoenix? Um...doubt it! And say what you want about my analysis of Agent Cody Banks, but, uh, homeboy looks pretty fly in that suit. 

This student of the 6 weeks will help you pass math any day of the week, Cody Banks.

The next four Baby Sarah comments are basically clairvoyant. Where will I be living in ten years? Notre Dame, duh. (I even knew I'd stay on campus - so wise.) What do I hope to become? Well, I write and edit this blog, do I not? So Baby Sarah basically got that one right. Give it a couple years. What's your goal for the next 10 years? Become valedictorian of your high school graduating class? 


Even the guess as to which friends I'd keep in touch with wasn't that far off. Considering one of the friends I'd listed had already moved to a different state by 2003, it's fairly impressive that I've spoken to her in person a few times since then and still send the occasional Facebook happy birthday message. As for the other friend, well, it's not like we go out for coffee every time we're home, but considering she goes to my church and is the daughter of my parents' best friends, I'd say that was a pretty clever move on Baby Sarah's part predicting we'd stay in touch. Baby Sarah, you sly dog. 

Also eerily reminiscent of Future Sarah is Baby Sarah's complete abandonment of good writing in the last couple sentences of her draft. What's an invention you'd like to see in the future? "Oh, I'm sorry," I can picture Baby Sarah saying, "I thought this interview was about ME." What's the best thing about your current age? "I dunno...everything?" Way to end strong, Baby Sarah. Way to end strong. 

Of course, I do redeem myself on some level with that ridiculous and typical PS. No, Baby Sarah, you are not on track to marry the guy listed there - and I must say I'm alarmed by your implication that I could be already married by 21, but I'll let one mistake slide - but he is one of about three people from Logansport with whom you actually still communicate, so overall not a bad guess! As of November 29, 2013, you remain almost aggressively not married. But your boy craziness hasn't waned one bit! Yes, for those of you wondering, I have written another one of these to be opened over Thanksgiving 2023, and my big romance goal by that point is to have had a boyfriend. Ever. Aim low. 

So, friends, I hope you've all enjoyed this walk down memory lane as much as I have. Here's hoping my inhuman mother has it in her to hide and remember another time-capsule note for ten entire years. (She claims, if you're wondering, to have found it while cleaning my room for my high school graduation, and to have therefore only had to remember/store it for three years, not ten. I, meanwhile, once lost a textbook that I had only owned for three months.) 

Stay tuned ten years down the road from now, people - because in case this weird, public collection of my thoughts isn't enough, I'm writing myself a time capsule letter.

SaRaH c.

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