Ila Kumar, 16-year-old, on what she would want her future self to know, after throwing up in her father’s Honda

Ila Kumar, deserving winner of a national writing contest for this, in The Lily:

Dear imagined future self,

On Halloween, my best friend’s older brother sold us each one Poland Spring water bottle filled with watered-down vodka. There are now 15 dollars less to my name. We drank this vodka with a great deal of teenage bravado — trying not wince at the clear liquid’s resemblance to rubbing alcohol. My friend’s father made a crudité platter for us. The night ended with me throwing up baby carrots and mini peppers in my dad’s Honda, at the first hard left out of my friend’s driveway. Never have I felt more like a 16-year-old.

Future self, I hope you are more sophisticated now. Not a “blousy” adult who wears long necklaces — but the kind of adult who seems like they drink salads, wear camel coats and know the definition to words like “palaver.”

My dad didn’t say anything. I knew he understood what had happened, and why. Maybe the same thing had happened to him when he was 16. Silence hung between us like fog; I felt embarrassed to be alive.

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