WARNING SIGNS is an excerpt from Allie Brosh's new book "Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened." Read our full article on Brosh here...we're still hoping for an awesome pterodactyl drawing.
When I was ten years old, I wrote a letter to my future self and buried it in my backyard. Seventeen years later, I remembered that I was supposed to remember to dig it up two years earlier.
I looked forward to getting a nostalgic glimpse into my childhood—perhaps I would marvel at my own innocence or see the first glimmer of my current aspirations. As it turns out, it just made me feel real weird about myself.
The letter was scrawled in green crayon on the back of a utility bill. My ten-year-old self had obviously not spent much time planning out the presentation of it. Most likely, I had simply been walking through the kitchen and suddenly realized that it was entirely possible to write a letter to my future self.
The overwhelming excitement of this realization probably caused me to panic and short-circuit, making me unable to locate proper writing implements. There was no time for that kind of thing.
I did, however, manage to fight through the haze of chaos and impulse long enough to find a crayon stub and a paper surface to mash it against.
The letter begins thusly:
Dear 25 year old [note: not “Dear 25-year-old me” or “Dear 25-year-old self,” just “Dear 25 year old”] ,
Do you still like dogs? What is your favarite dog? Do you have a job tranning dogs? Is Murphy still alive? What is youre favarite food?? Are mom and dad still alive?
I feel it’s important to note the order of those questions. Obviously, dog-related subjects were my chief concern (Murphy was my family’s dog), followed closely by the need to know my future favorite food (I feel that the double question marks speak to how important I thought that question was). Only then did I pause to wonder whether my parents had survived.
The letter continues with a section titled “About me”:
My name is Allie and I am ten years old. I have blound hair and blue eyes. My favarite dog is a german shepard. My second favarite dog is a husky. My third favarite dog is a Dobberman
This is troubling for a number of reasons, the first of which is that I apparently thought my future self wouldn’t be aware of my name or eye color.
The second thing is the fact that I just tacked on my favorite dog breeds at the end there, like it was every bit as important to my identity as the other things. As if my past self had imagined my future self standing in the yard above the upturned earth, clutching my letter and screaming, “BUT WHAT DOGS DID I LIKE??? HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO UNDERSTAND MY IDENTITY WITHOUT KNOWING WHAT DOGS I LIKED WHEN I WAS TEN???”
I took a break from writing at that point to draw several pictures of what appear to be German shepherds.
Below the German shepherds, I wrote the three most disturbing words in the entire letter—three words that revealed more about my tenuous grasp on reality than anything else I have uncovered about my childhood. There, at the bottom of the letter, I had taken my crayon stub and used it to craft the following sentence:
Please write back.