Shipping and handling outside the Milky Way

Jen Frantz, Editor in Chief

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 In fifth grade, I threw up on my tuba. And I hate to say it, but the tuba kind of deserved it. 

     I was the only tuba player who didn’t have wheels on my tuba case; instead, I had several straps on the back and sides. To most people, my tuba case would resemble a large, misshapen rucksack, but to me, it was  not just large and misshapen—it was a musical jetpack. 

   To my disappointment, I only gained “lift off” with my tuba once: I was carrying my tuba across the East Woods commons with all the straps hanging down in front of my feet, and, I, in my infinite grace, stepped into one of those straps, fell over the tuba and landed on my wrist. Hard

     Later, I would discover that my wrist was fractured, but, at that time, I still had a bus to catch. So I dragged my tuba across the floor with my free hand and tried to convince someone, anyone, to help me carry it onto the bus. No one, of course, paid any attention, and I watched the bus drive away before promptly throwing up all over my tuba. 

     I will never forget the next thing that a student said to me: “Hey, did you just, like, throw up?”

     And I said, “Oh. Yeah.” 

     The pale, prepubescent Jen Frantz, washing her hands in the East Woods bathroom while the janitors vacuumed the vomit from her tuba case—she still exists somewhere. In another dimension, another galaxy, I am perpetually a fifth-grade girl washing the vomit from her hands. 

     If I could send her a letter via the intergalactic Pony Express, spanning both space and time, I would say: You made it. 

     And assuming there is free shipping and handling, I might as well write a few words to the infinite other Jen Frantzs still waiting to grow up. 

     To the six-year-old Jen Frantz crying on the kitchen floor because she would “never learn how to read”: You made it.

     To the 12-year-old Jen Frantz sitting on the bathroom floor with a toothbrush in her hand, begging to be “skinny:” You made it. 

     To the 15-year-old Jen Frantz working on homework until 4:30 a.m. on a school night: You made it. 

     Now it’s up to you.

     If our lives were infomercials, this would be the part where the Shamwow guy says, “Wait, there’s more!”

    There’s so much more. 

    The Jen Frantzs mentioned above—those of three, six, even 12 years ago—are so much different than the woman I am today. Back then, I had no idea who I would be as an 18 year old—as an adult. That’s the best thing about the future: you don’t know

     You will never know. Put that phrase on a bumper sticker, scrawl it on your favorite pair of jeans in red Sharpie, write it in the condensation of your bathroom mirror—whatever you need to do in order to remember that you shouldn’t be able to imagine who you will be in five years. The chasm between the you of today and the you of 2020 should be so deep and so wide that the future you is but a smudge on the other side. 

   One thing the College Board will never teach you: it’s okay not to know. It’s okay, every once in a while, to doodle in the test booklet. It’s okay to major in English or history or philosophy without knowing exactly what you’re going to do with your degree after college. It will always be okay to be you. 

     So play all the instruments (and maybe throw up on a few of them). In five or 10 years, if the “intergalactic Pony Express” is still around, send your old selves letters. Teach them what “different” means.


2015-05-19 08:25:28