As part of The Stories We Tell Ourselves, we commissioned 12 writers from Australia and the UK to write a letter to their past or future selves. In response to the question “Who are we now?”, these writers consider what conversations and stories need to be had and created for us to reimagine, rethink and rebuild the world around us.
Writer Maame Blue writes to her future self:
I can’t believe it’s been 10 years. How are you?
I hope you are magnificent.
I hope you are not just OK. Not still waking up in the middle of the night to the sound of the milkman leaving glass bottles that remind you of a childhood you’re still trying to forget. Not still sleeping restlessly, your to-do list long, laborious and inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. I hope so much more for you than this time here, now.
I hope you still have that love you found two years before this letter. That your heart still explodes when they enter the room, and closes in a little when they leave. That your futures have become like intertwined vines that keep you safe, held and feeling altogether part of something bigger. And I hope the world acknowledges it, your love.
It is not the same kind you grew up with. Not the same as the romantic movies that you would wish after as a child, that you then tried to replicate as you got older, with suitors too straight for your squiggly edges.
I hope it’s still the slow simmering, deliciously real kind of love. The sharing-soup-on-a-winter’s-day kind of love. The let-me-do-the-washing-up-tonight, and don’t-worry-about-what-anyone-else-thinks kind of love.
I hope it keeps you feeling magnificent.
I still have hope for the world, somehow. I really hope you do too. And that it is generally kinder. But I think we always hoped for that, didn’t we? So, perhaps a decade later, you can walk through white spaces without feeling as though you cast a long, dark shadow? Or maybe there are no longer white spaces, just places where people can go to be themselves? Perhaps you’ve created that space for yourself and your fellow outsiders to feel warm again on the inside? I really hope so. Because I have begun to understand that our legacies are what we leave with other people.
I hope you’ve been building on what we started. That you’ve been using your gift with words to tell the truth. God, I hope you’re still telling the truth, that you haven’t left any of yourself behind. You are the best you, when you’re speaking/thinking/writing the real things, even when it’s difficult and it hurts and you worry that no one else will understand. I hope you’ve found a way to reach towards sincerity, to communicate with candour, to write a gospel of emotions in their full range that bring about praise and adoration of the truth.
I hope you always strive for magnificence.
And most of all, I hope you have happiness. It is fleeting, I know. It comes and goes with the wind, a mood swing or even the change of an outfit. But every now and again, I hope that it arrives, in the in-between times, in the tiny moments and especially in the big ones. I hope you still know when to grasp it, when to pass it on, and when to stop looking for it so that you can find yourself again. Let it be a balm, not the ultimate solution. But do let it be.
I hope you take my words as they are intended, that they don’t feel like a to-do list but merely a statement of facts about where you are now, 10 years from me.
Because you are magnificent. I want you to remember that. Always.
Maame Blue is a Ghanaian-Londoner and author of the novel Bad Love, which won the 2021 Betty Trask award, was shortlisted for the Betty Trask Prize and was chosen as one of the top three debuts of 2020 by Cheltenham Literature Festival. Her short story ‘Howl’ was featured in the KYD New Australian Fiction 2020 anthology, and her story ‘Prodigal’ appears in the Speaking Volumes anthology Not Quite Right For Us. Her writing has also appeared in various places including Writers Mosaic, The Independent, Black Ballad, and Litro Magazine, and she is cautiously working on her second novel.
The Stories We Tell Ourselves is a partnership between Spread the Word, The Wheeler Centre and Melbourne, City of Literature. It is part of the UK/Australia Season; a joint initiative by the British Council and the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
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