by Lorna Dune
Sending a message to my older self from myself at 11 years old.
| My Message in a Bottle
When I was 11 years old my family and I took a cruise to Hawaii. This was one summer when I was free to be by myself a lot. The first night out two thirds of the passengers and one third of the crew came down with food poisoning from some oysters that where left over from the night before and served again when they had been improperly stored in the refrigerators. Since I hate oysters I didn’t eat them and did not get sick. My mother, since she had to take care of my baby sister, was really sick and said it would be easier for her if I just stayed out of the cabin for most of the day. This arrangement was fine with me. I’d just seen a movie a few months before about a man putting a letter in a bottle and I thought today was the perfect day for me to do the same thing. I had been dreaming of doing this for months and couldn’t wait to get to the kitchen to find a bottle for my message. I’d already written my letter. It was a letter to me asking if my adult life had turned out the way I had planned. It seemed like such a great idea, asking my older self a question that I did not know the answer to at 11 years old.
The letter was written in my finest handwriting, asking if my dreams had come true; did I get married, have some children of my own, what I was doing with my life. I had to hold myself in check not to run to the kitchen I was so excited. I politely asked the crew if they had a clear bottle long enough to hold a rolled up piece of paper. They all laughed and said they kept a supply because so many people seemed to ask for just such an item. I thanked them for the bottle, it was perfect, and went down to the deck and sat in one of the deck chairs. I carefully reread my letter and I liked what I had written. They seemed like such grown up questions I felt proud of my final draft. I carefully rolled the letter and placed it in the bottle. I went up to the Captains deck and found a navigator who had a minute to answer some questions for me. I wanted to know the best time to toss my message into the Pacific Ocean so that it would be carried back to the lower American states. I wanted it to have a chance to wash up on a beach where some day, someone in the United States could find it. He told me to wait for the eighth day out and toss it over the railing. He said that would be the best time for the bottle to possibly get back to the states. He was curious as to why all of my questions and I told him my plan to have the message someday return to a grown up me by someone finding the bottle and I told him I had put my fathers work phone number in the message so that if we moved the people could find me and return my message. He said that was a wonderful idea and wished me all the luck of the sea, since he said Neptune would have to help me get my wish. I thanked him and strolled back to my cabin and used the bathroom so that I could hide my message bottle in my suitcase. My mother had just left the bathroom after throwing up again and it wasn’t too pleasant in there, but I stuck it out so I could hide my bottle after she had checked on my sister and gone back to bed. Again I thought how lucky I was not to like oysters, and I left our cabin. We actually had two cabins with adjoining doors, but mostly just my sister’s clothes and diapers where in the room where I slept.
Those eight days passed ever so slowly. I re-wrote the letter a few times until I had it just right. When the eighth day arrived I was ready. I was up early, the first one up in fact, I was so excited about my message that I got to see the sunrise on that day. Just as I was getting ready to through my bottle into the ocean, the navigator walked by. He asked, “Are you ready to throw the bottle in?” I replied, “Yes I am”. So he took the bottle, and since he could throw farther, I let him send my message on its way. We both just stood there and watched the bottle until it faded from view. He shook my hand and said, “Good luck, I hope your message comes back to you.” I said thank you and that I hoped it did too.
The vacation was a success and I enjoyed myself very much. As the years passed and I grew older I thought about the bottle less and less. No one had called to say they had found the bottle, but I never gave up hope that it would be found someday. When I turned 33 I lost my ability to have children of my own due to endometriosis, and it took me 5 long years to come to accepting that fact. I had worked for the State of Oregon Children’s Services department for a month an a half before I fell on the stairs and broke a spur off one of my vertebrae. That had happened when I was 24 and I had back surgery the next year. I never accomplished my dream of being a Caseworker because of the accident. It had been almost 4 years since I had last worked and by that time the entry level positions had been done away with. Now you needed two years of volunteer work to be able apply for the Caseworker 2. So I started studying bookkeeping and I did that as my career until I re-injured my back because even though I had told the Temporary Service that I couldn’t lift or twist because of the surgery, the employer had me doing just that. In 1997 I stopped work completely because of the pain. In 2002 I was in a one car accident, the State Police said I had rolled my Tercel, and besides a 10 ½ hour concussion, I also had a compression fracture above the surgery site. I have been working on a Social Security claim since 2000 and the lawyers didn’t want to appeal the decision on the Federal level, so I lost all the back pay that was owed me. I still have an open claim for SSI but since they lost my folder last November I have to start all over again.
Then in 2005 I received a phone call and a Mrs. Cox said that one of her children, while playing in the Ocean had discovered my message in a bottle and she would like to return it. A week later my front door bell rang and there stood a cute little boy around 11 years old, the same age I was when I had tossed my letter overboard with the navigators help. I thanked him and gave him a $50.00 bill for saving my letter. As I said before, I had to answer “No” to most of the questions that long ago me had asked. But on one I could truthfully say that I was, over all, very happy with my life. I have told this story many times to my nephew and to my girl friends’ children. They all think it was fantastic that an 11 year old would actually ask her grown up self these questions, but they where even more thrilled that my message in a bottle had finally been returned to me. I say everyone should try it; send yourself a message in a bottle, you just might get it back years later, and then you too can see if your life had gone as you planned.
Word Count: 1,373
© Copyright 2007 Lorna Dune (UN: bristelstomp at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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