You grew up too soon, your dandelion seeds sprouting weeds quickly, but that doesn't mean you know everything about life yet. Those feelings you've been wishing for? To be loved like coffee, like chocolate milk, like popcorn at the movie theater as the lights dim and people husssssssssh...around you? They're lurking, waiting to make their move. You can ignore them all you want, but first loves are a bitch and by the time that night is over, you'll already be infatuated with the sound of his voice, the tilt of his head, the dimples of his smile. You'll string him along for almost a year, never realizing that his puppy-dog eyes and his uncanny ability to find you even when you're running from him are more than an inherent annoyance. You'll push him away because he scares you...but the day will come when that changes. When the blinders on your heart will fall like chains and you'll see him with different eyes. You'll realize that he's obsessed with you in a way that makes your stomach feel bunched in a knot.
He'll change you, sweetheart, and it won't all be for the best. He'll come pick you up from the airport after a dozen long phone calls (which I'm sure your father won't be pleased with) and even more internet chats and it will be awkward. He's the first boy you'll let hold your hand and a few days later, you'll be at a park and he'll kiss you...and it will terrify you, because first kisses are supposed to be magic. First kisses are supposed to make you weak in the knees and set off a chain reaction that leads to you knowing you want to spend the rest of your life with that person, and this will be anything but. There won't be fireworks or angels singing and you'll want to run away, because no one else has ever made you feel the way he does so why do you feel like laughing? But you'll let him try it again, just once more...and then you'll decide that maybe you just aren't meant to kiss him. So you won't. For almost six months, you won't.
Try it again, sweetheart, and not just because you feel pressured to by his best friend. Try it again because you'll learn that not all first kisses are magic, but by the time you do, you'll have broken up and kissed a different toad first. You don't realize it now, but you'll come back to him. It's a magnetic sort of attraction, you see, and you won't be able to explain it, even to yourself, but he's important to you. He'll probably always be important to you, even if you aren't a hundred percent certain why. Don't break his heart, don't break his heart, don't break his heart...
Except that will be hard. He's the bad boy stereotype and he'll leave you dangling, crying, time and again. He'll lie. Oh, God, will he lie...but the thing they don't tell you in the fairy tales you dream about is how sometimes, Prince Charming is the one who needs saving. You can't save him, though, sweetheart. You have to understand that right now. He's got to learn to save himself first, and he won't do that for a very long time. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't hold onto him while you can. He's going to hurt you before you turn twenty, you see, and it isn't going to be an easy fix. It will be the worst fight you've ever had...and you'll hate him. Don't hate him, sweetheart. You're both going to do some damn stupid things, and wind up with two of the very worst kinds of people for you, but you always come back. You always come back to each other. Just remember: they also forget to mention that sometimes, soul mates aren't meant to be together. At least not always like that. Forgive him.
Talk to somebody--anybody--about what's going on at home. You'll notice the changes in your mom before you know why they've happened. Naive, remember? You'll blame yourself; you'll think that you're a disappointment, that you aren't good enough, that you have to do better, try harder... You'll take her word that the pills are supposed to help her, until--much too late--you realize how bad her problem is. She'll make excuses for keeping you from having people over, from going out with friends, from living your life. She'll get into your checking account--her name's on it, after all--and take money you were saving for college for the rent, for the utilities, for her own personal gain. Your dad will tell you that the money he's been sending for years was meant to be divided up--half should have gone toward a savings account for college--and you'll get pissed off. The week before you leave for college, a scholarship tucked in your back pocket to help lessen the financial load--because by now, you know you're going to have it hard; by now, you know you're on your own--she'll tell you she doesn't think you're ready to handle life. She'll tell you that you have to wait six months, maybe a year. She'll tell you that no, she won't be driving you, after all.
Don't feel bad about what you do next. Her addiction has gotten worse and she's been keeping you up acting the parent for months and the honest truth is, she's the one who's not ready. You've been handling yourself and your little brother and her since you were six and didn't know the difference, and she doesn't want that to change. She relies on you much too much.
Your grandpa will drive you and you'll yell at her and tell her you're going, you're out of there, and she can either come with or stay, it doesn't matter to you. And she'll come. But she'll be so high on pain killers that she won't even know what year it is and you'll spend the whole ride pissed off and stressed out because she's talking to people in the back seat about the past. You won't understand why she can't just handle the present. Why she can't just support you the way she should on such a big day. It will take you years to realize that her addiction has nothing to do with you, everything to do with her and the pains she's been through...but in that seven hour car ride, your reliance on her--your need for her to just give a little something in return--will change.
Don't feel bad about trying to forget when you're gone. You have a life, too, but you've been pushing it aside for so long you won't know what to do with yourself seven hours away from the only place you've really ever been your whole life. And that's okay, you don't have to have everything planned out. You don't have to back out of having fun or enjoying life anymore, because she isn't there and you aren't expected to keep an eye on her now. Learn to love being spontaneous, and staying out too late, and actually hanging out with people. Learn to love the teenager lurking in you, because you don't have much longer to know her.
But mostly, sweetheart, learn to love yourself. You've struggled with this for so long, it's going to take a lot of effort and hard work. It's going to take a guy with a gentle touch and a cruel demeanor to make you realize that who you are is better than who you're trying so hard to be. You don't want to be that girl, sweetheart. The one who falls in love with guys just because they call her beautiful. The kind who doesn't care that there are more fights and harsh words to a relationship, more tantrums and tears, than actual love. You don't want to be that kind of girl...but you're going to be, and you're going to realize, when you finally find the strength to let it go, to make him leave, that you hate yourself for it. That you hate yourself for him. Weakness has never had a place in your life, but that doesn't mean you aren't too self-conscious to let it sneak in now and then. Don't be that kind of girl. Things will work out the way they're meant to, and just because he makes you feel like you're a Princess, doesn't mean he'll really treat you like one once that ring is on your finger. Don't make that mistake; it's one you could live without.
Remember: things always happen the way they're supposed to. True love--the kind you'll want to fight for--will find you soon...but you have to learn to love yourself before you can fully appreciate it. So learn it as quick as you can, sweetheart. Your life is waiting.