I wanted to write you a story for your birthday, but it hasn't been easy with what all's been going on lately. See, my head is just full of distractions since about three weeks ago: the day I started being able to see into the future.
This is a weird gift and a heavy burden. That's why I've been keeping it to myself these past weeks. The future doesn't just come to you in a lightning flash. That's a ridiculous thought. It's more like a book in your mind and you can only read a page at a time. You can look for certain things, certain people or events, but it takes time and a lot of concentration to thumb to the correct "page."
And I can't give much away. That much I know. I somehow intuit that telling too much of what I see will result in the loss of this "gift," and I'm not sure I want to do that yet. Seeing the future makes me feel better somehow, like I'm the only one online and the rest of the world is miles behind me.
But, I wanted a story for your birthday and I don't think it's too much if I just glean a simple one from my gift. It takes place 27 years from now. At 54, you've figured out a way to retire. At 61, I've been on a disability pension after two mild heartattacks. I can't tell you all that's happened in between, in those 27 years. I can't tell you what happens to me in the years that follow. I honestly don't know it all. That's a lot of time to cover and my concentration is poor. Plus, I am too chickenshit to look too far into my own future. But I have seen this particular time and we are together at this date and place. I've finagled a sort of Winnebago and we are making a small odyssey for a two-week span, before I have to go back to work. We start in Delaware, the first state, where you were raised, and you tour me through Wilmington and Philadelphia, before leading me down into slower, lower Delaware where we drive as slow as old people through sparsely populated roads to the state park you camped at as a girl. The changes are obvious and sad, too little money was ever spent on parks, but there is enough familiar to make you happy and we spend a night in a yurt over looking a crystal lake.
Of course, there's more. My tour of North Carolina. A drive up into the mountains, Appalachia still remarkably unchanged, spoiled but relatively beautiful nonetheless. Along the way, you buy cards and gifts for your collection of loved ones, an enormous group of people at this point. We spend too much time in gift shops for my tastes, but c'est la vie, right? The trip is one of those sad but moving experiences, the world has changed so much in 27 years, and it becomes one of those things that you carry with you for many years to come. Many, many years.