I was carrying the microwave outside the other day, trying to get rid of the smoke pouring out of it everywhere, when it hit me that a) I’m almost certainly moving out in less than a year, and b) I’d better get my act together where minor kitchen appliances are concerned. Before you come to any hasty conclusions, though, let me reassure you that at seventeen years old, I’m still completely capable of using a microwave. Accidents happen, okay? But in all seriousness, thinking about my—our?—time at Lisgar coming to an end made me realize that there’s a lot I should warn you about, so here goes.
First, the important things. Don’t ever listen to violinists—they might think they’re all that, but they’re not. The viola is the one and only perfect instrument, and the sooner you figure that out, the better. Oh, and also, please go do something about your hair.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, pause for a moment and look around. I know you might not love this city yet, but you will, I promise. You’ll start out small, walking an extra five minutes out of your way by the canal, maybe, or through the market, just to admire the view. Some day you’ll even stop leaving the house without a camera because of all the beautiful moments you might miss, but that comes much later. By then you’ll be turning evenings spent in old cathedrals and empty parking lots alike into holy moments worthy of remembering. And yet.
You’ll want more than you can have some days; you’ll want stars.
Just remember that the best and brightest things will come to you when you least expect it. Your favourite stories will usually be the ones you stumble across by accident in the corners of old bookstores, so stop looking in all the wrong places. Some books that will change everything: Morning in the Burned House, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, The History of Love.
In much the same way, a few of those people you don’t even notice sitting next to you in class right now might become the most important people in your life. It’s funny how things work like that. What I’m trying to say is, step out of your shell a little bit—a hello never hurt. I’d help you figure out what else to say, but I can no longer remember the first words and small wonders that ended up leading to the bigger moments. Poet Vera Pavlova writes, “Time is like a diatonic scale: it consists of major and minor seconds.”
Learn to live for the major seconds, for those dissonant intervals that stand out from the rest. Everything else, as important as it might seem at the time, is just noise. The distinction is yours to make.
So don’t forget to read more, speak up for yourself, and look out for the beautiful things. Also, be careful with microwaves. And most of all, slow down—you’ll be here soon enough.