Hope all goes well and you're not too grey or fat: Rory, a new dad in Kilkenny, Ireland, is writing to himself 7 weeks into fatherhood. A first baby and a new job; Rory finds life as he knew it quickly slipping away. Speaking to hosts Sophie, Steph, and Maria 10 years later, Rory reflects on the fear he had for his future, who gets baby-naming priority, and why he’s looking forward to retiring.
Have you dug out an old letter from 10 years ago? Share it with us! firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks to Matt for creating FutureMe and collaborating with us on this show by helping letter-writers opt-in to be interviewed.
Rory The day she was born was the happiest day of my life. And I just remember being in the hospital, trying to tell my parents and I couldn't tell them because I was so choked up with joy. I was walking around the hospital going, ‘I really need to cry, if there was just a closet here, I just need to get it out of me’. And I went to the car park and I sat in the car and I'm like, I can't cry. It's gone. It's gone. [theme music fades in]
Steph Colbourn You’re listening to Hope This Finds Me Well, a podcast about the past & future versions of ourselves and what we want to tell them. I’m Steph, and each week I sit down with my co-hosts Sophie and Maria.
Sophie Shin Hello!
Maria Passingham Hiya!
SC To talk with someone who recently received an email they had sent to themself years before. We want to know how they felt when this arrived in their inbox and, is what they wrote about still important to them?
The letter we’re discussing today captures a moment in a young family’s life, and, a decade later, our guest shares his memories of that time, as well as the changes the next ten years had in store for him. I think the time difference between this letter being sent and received is the longest we’ve seen so far this season. It was 10 whole years. So before we get going, I want to ask you both, if you had written a letter 10 years ago, what do you think would have been in it?
what do you think it would have been about? Or what would have been in it?
SS Oh my God! I was just trying to do the math, but that's really easy. It's 10 years. So I guess I was seventeen... Are you in your last year of high school?
SS I feel like 10 years ago, I wouldn't even have the self awareness to do this. Like I wouldn't write myself a letter. Like I'm bad at it right now. Back then there's no way that I probably had the self awareness to do that. But I feel like I thought I was so cool when I was 17. And I had everything figured out. You know, when you're like, 17, you think you're like so woke and you know, everything and you're, I don't know, looking back at myself at 17 makes me cringe. So I don't even know what I would say in a letter. Let's, uh, let's get it off of me. And I'm gonna bounce it right back to you.
SC I can't even think of where I was at the time 10 years ago, I was either living in Banff living like on a ski mountain just like partying every day, or I was in first year university. Or I was in the Yukon.
SS I think this question is proving that Steph and I have bad memories.
SC I have a terrible memory. And also did a lot of moving around. I mean, I kept like a lot of journals. I didn't like a lot of creative writing my whole life. So I could probably read you something from then yesterday. I was really angry as a kid.
SS How about you, Maria?
MP Well, I think I have a stronger memory of where it was 10 years ago that you seem to be but then I was like, 'Oh, hang on. I have been writing letters to myself for this whole time!' So I went back and I found that actually, I do have a letter from 10 years ago.
SS No way!
MP And I have to say, it's like super cute.
SS Please read.
MP It's very quick. So I think I will read it. "Dear FutureMe, this is just a quick note to say remember to smile and pay people compliments. It makes everyone feel better. If you're feeling good when you read this, hug the nearest person to you and go out and have a Desperados. If you're feeling miserable, get someone to hug you watch About A Boy and listen to the Kabities. Much love."
SC What's the Desperado?
SS What's a Kabitie?
MP Oh my gosh, you don't have it?! Desperadoes is a really bad lager that's flavored like tequila. And I was obsessed with it when I was seventeen.
SS Oh, we do have that.
SC What?! We do?!
SS Yes, I'm pretty sure we do
MP The Kabities, to answer your other question is a band from the town where I grew up, I was obsessed with them. They never really went anywhere.
SS Are you still obsessed with them? I would still listen to some of the songs but they're not together anymore. But what I found really wild is I say to go and watch About A Boy. And that very film we ended up talking about with guests today.
SS Oh my God!
SC That is bizarre.
SS That is so wild!
SC Yeah, I think the main thing that we can learn from all of this is that Sophie and I have terrible memories, but also that a lot can clearly change in 10 years. And so at the beginning of this episode, we played that clip from worry where he mentioned that he was about to have or had just had a baby, and he's like in the hospital and now obviously 10 years later that baby is a preteen, which is wild to think about so I can't wait for you to hear what else happened over these years. I think we should roll the tape. Here's Rory in Kilkenny Ireland reading his letter from 2010.
Rory “Dear FutureMe,
Eve is 7 weeks old and is very cranky. She is just starting to smile but farts loudly quite a lot. We call her Mr.T because of the rage especially when asked to go into her travel seat. Another nickname for her is Moochy McMoocherson because of all the mooching she does at night - e.g. general grunting after feeding making sleep difficult. Her new bed/cot sits in front of me in 8 Rose Lawn and I'm going to build it this weekend because she's way too big for her moses basket and can't stretch out in it.
I'm finishing with Kerry Group after 13 years next Friday 28th May 2010 - I start with Waterford Technologies 21st June and I'm scared shitless of the unknown - I hope future me has pleasant things to say about the company and that it's made me financially secure.
Does future son Glen exist? I hope so - I can feel him swimming around waiting to take over the world! Hope he doesn't meet his demise in a tissue!
Aoife is on maternity leave with Eve until August and is currently downstairs trying to calm the rage Eve is experiencing after waking up from a 5 hour sleep - the hunger must be great - she wolfs the bottle and then gets rage with the wind. Good film title.
Well 46 year old Rory - hope all goes well and you're not too grey or fat - you were a freight train 10 years ago!”
SS Wow, so many questions, first, I feel like I need to know if Eve still goes by Moochy McMoocherson!
Rory No, she’s had so many nicknames in between, the one that's stuck is Steve because it rhymes with Eve, but it's also the monkey in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, just you know, really, ‘cause it's got a little translator for the for the grunts and it's like, hungry, lick, she's just kind of one syllable at a time. So Steve would be the main one.
SC As someone who frequently gets an email that calls me, SCen, I appreciate another human in the world whose name is not Steven, who does not mind going by it every once in a while.
SC So that Moochy nickname hasn’t stuck, which is maybe good, I’m not sure yet. I know we were all really curious to hear what else had changed in the 10 years since Rory wrote this letter, but first I think we have to go back to the moment he wrote it, and what was happening in his life at the time, outside of this specific domestic snapshot.
Rory I know from the time of my life that it was the greatest change I've ever experienced in my life and I was scared shitless because my wife had moved back up here to Kilkenny, I was stuck. .. We were living together before we got married, and she just basically left me stranded, stuck in a house living by myself. And then she got pregnant. And it was like I was living with a buddy from college five days a week living a single life, driving up to her at the weekend. And she's kind of going, I’m seven months pregnant… when this baby arrives, you will be driving two hours to your job in the morning and two hours back in the evening because I'm not raising this kid by myself.
So I think it was just, it was the unknown in every sense of the word. I was moving location to a place I've never been before, I was in a new house, new kid, new town, new marriage. So everything was new. And I didn't know what was gonna happen.
SC Do you ever think back on writing this letter? Did you ever feel like oh, there was like some part of me admitting that you were scared of these things, and then they all changed and kind of for the better, or in the ways that you thought they would?
Rory Yeah, I'm a natural pessimist, so the unknown scares me a lot. And I'd stayed at my previous company for like, 13 years with my first company after college and why change something, I was probably scared to change something because I wasn't majorly unhappy, but I wasn't ecstatic either. And this was kind of forced change how to do it. So this was my way of kind of going… that would be really interesting if I could see what happened in 10 years and if everything works out, okay,
MP So was this your first letter?
Rory Mmmm… Probably one of the first. Yeah, because I sent a lot of them when they were young, and you know, just a year old… when they took their first steps. I would have attached a picture as well. So I think this one would have been one of my first letters.
SS That's so nice.
MP So you were saying...their first steps. So in the letter, there's only one of…. them.
Rory Yeah Glen arrived.
SS Glen arrived?
Rory The swimmer arrived! I wanted to call him Glen because at the time I was a big immature Family Guy fan, and Glen Quagmire is in Family Guy. And I wanted it to be a little inner joke because my wife is the straight member of the partnership, she would not find that humorous whatsoever. Yeah, so I had a couple of buddies and I'm saying I'm going to try and get her to call him Glen. And you know, I'm not going to say anything here. And every time I call the guy's name, it's going to be like, haha, but no, she didn't like the name so we went with... we christened him William but he's now Will and he's he was eight last month.
SC Wow. Wait, how old is Eve now?
Rory Eve is 10, since March. So she's an official preteen.
SS A similar thing happened to when my name was being chosen. My dad wanted me to be named Winona because he wanted both of his kids to have x and y. He wanted my brother's name to be Xavier and my name to be Winona even though Winona’s spelt with a W. So I don't really know where the logic is coming from. But then my mom was like, full stop, no, her name is SS. No question. So sorry, dads, I think sometimes moms kind of get, kind of get final say on that.
SC I do feel like there's a lot of pressure to name a kid like right after the child is birthed. And I don't know how many people can fight the person birthing the child at that point in time. You kind of don't have much pull, you're like, okay, yeah, whatever you want.
Rory Yeah there’s other priorities to sort out.
MP Rory, my sister just had a baby last night. And actually, they didn't tell us the name until later today, but I have it on good authority that it was definitely her husband who sort of forced his opinion through, so I think maybe, maybe he took advantage of her sort of weaker, tired state.
SC Ok so clearly a lot has happened since Rory wrote the letter, I wondered how it was receiving it all these years later.
RoryIt was kind of one of those ones where you wake up the following morning after getting really hammered. And you go, Wow, did I write that and I'm kind of going Yeah, I did. That was really funny. Because I was laughing at myself going yeah, you're amazing. You're so funny.
SC Did you go through each point… because it sounds like when you wrote this, there was a bunch of things that you were worried about. Do you feel like you've kind of... do you feel like you have that same sense of worry? And it's placed in other parts of your life now? Or do you feel...I don't know. That's what happens with me, I don't think I'm like more or less anxious or worried. I just think I've found the same anxiety to like put in other buckets of my life.
Rory Yes, and I think I've done that as well. I'm now worried about… Eve isn't that good at maths, she's getting assistance from a teacher. You're going well, will she got a good job? It’s just substituted with something else to keep your brain active.
MP And you've got like a whole new bucket of warriors. Because there's a whole other person in the mix so it’s like...
Rory Exactly, stuff that you can't control, and you worry about them, you know, stepping out in front of a car and just, you know, it's not you, you can control yourself, but you can't control them.
SC I mean, like, I don't know that's why your leather [laughs] ‘your leather’, your letter is so like, poignant is because it's funny, but it's also very emotional and coming from a place of like, I don't know what the hell's going on. Does she wanted a bottle? Does she not want a bottle? Aam I gonna be okay will I have a job?
Rory I wish I recorded actually when I wrote it that you know, the time of day, what the mindset was, but I have no memory of this but well, understandably, after 10 years, but I wonder what I was doing and where I was.
MP That's so interesting, because I've used Future Me quite a lot, and I was reading back through some that have been delivered, it takes me right back to that moment like… short of what I was wearing, I can pretty much imagine everything around me so it's really interesting for me that yours is kind of, the like emotions may be there but it's like disassociated from like the location or the sort of, you know, situation.
SS I have to say like my first reaction was, when I was first reading this, I thought it was like a mother. Because you say I can feel him swimming around -
Rory Does future son Glenn exist? I can feel him swimming around, waiting to take over the world.
SS - and I thought that was like a mother carrying a baby, but like the visual of him swimming around in a guy is totally different. I was like ‘oh my god it's a dad and you know, he's talking about his sperm swimming around.’ So….
Rory Yeah, I don't know where that thought came from. But I would say there may have a glass of wine involved, possibly.
SS That's so fair. I feel like that's how you need to write these letters is like slightly tipsy, like sober me would just go into an existential crisis if I was writing those letters too sober so...
SC I do feel like when you wrote this letter, your time was sucked away by Moochy McMoocherson or the like...
Rory I think I was loving it though, because I just, like the day she was born was the happiest day of my life. And I just remember being in the hospital, trying to tell my parents and I couldn't tell them because I was so choked up with joy. I was walking around the hospital like going, ‘I really need to cry, if there was just a closet here, I just need to get it out of me’. And I went to the car park and I sat in the car and I'm like, I can't cry. It's gone. It's gone.
MP It expired!
Rory And she turned out to be a little slice of me as well. I always thought it would be the boy but the boy looks like her whose personality is more like her. Whereas Steve is just a chip off the old block and she's a daddy's girl. And I love her so you know, it's great.
SS I love that. I also love dad cries.
Rory I could start crying watching an insurance commercial so, yeah.
SC I mean, I wouldn't need to find a closet or a car park. I think I would just like start bawling in the hallway and be like, look at me. I have arrived.
SS I am a dad.
MP I know that when I get a futureme email delivered I immediately run and tell whoever is in the house, and reminisce or cringe at how naive I was, or celebrate what I’ve achieved since..I wondered… did he have that same urge?
Rory I did show this letter to one of my colleagues who… he's in Nashville in Tennessee and he was just cracking up. He said, I cannot believe how entertaining that letter is. So that just gave me a real buzz. So I must share it actually my wife again because I'd say she's forgotten I ever ever wrote it if I ever even showed it to her on the first day. I did show it to Eve. Yeah, she loved it.
SS Oh, do you think, well, I don't know how old Will is now but I don't know if he would like to know that he was swimming around…
Rory I have done the facts of life with him actually, inadvertently, because Aoife would be very uncomfortable talking about that sort of thing. So I was made for it, so I took great joy in kind of giving them the technicalities, and I got that ‘you did that to mum?’. I was like, Yeah, I sure did.
SS And now you’re here.
SC You’re welcome.
Rory Yeah, I gotta tell the story to Aoife’s friends last week and I was like… it was one of those jobs that I was made to do because I was like I've been on the bench for so long. Yes, I can do this. I have no problem describing technicalities. I will not get embarrassed. The tissue thing actually. No, I won't go there yet.
SS Rory if you can, like write something to… in like 10 years, I guess you would be 56… What would you, what would you write?
Rory Uh, I haven't written a future me in a while..
SS Or what...what would you ask yourself? What do you want to know?
Rory I want to know how close I am to retiring because every year I have a birthday and I go ‘really another year of this?’ You know, I just want to be that guy in the movie where Hugh Grant, About A Boy, he's made all his money, he’s got nothing to do... He divides up his day in a half hour chunks. I could definitely do that: half our bath in the morning; half our shaving; half hour eating breakfast; half hour walk down to get the paper; half hour reading the paper. And the grass is always greener, I'll probably be bored when I'm retired. But yeah, my job is sucking the life out of me. And I can't wait to kind of be at a stage where I'm like…
SS Yeah, I feel like it's a myth that people get bored in retirement like, I don't know., feel like I could do nothing for a very long time. And I feel like most people can.
MP Yeah. But also I will flag that that character in About A Boy which, yeah, my secret sort of admission is that it used to be my favourite film for long time, and he's called Will, I remember and he's actually very miserable! So like maybe don't aspire too much to like morph into him.
Rory Well not the boy, Hugh Grant is pretty happy.
MP Do you think? I think he realises that he's missing a lot.
Rory Yeah, he does. But he's got a lot of fun missing stuff.
MP True, it's pretty nice to have a pool table in your flat which you can spend three half hours playing.
SS I feel like this is such a UK conversation just like two people from the UK talking about a Hugh Grant movie.
MP Oh, we’re such a cliches.
SS I love Hugh Grant, but I don't know that movie, and I'm so sorry.
Just want to butt in here on behalf of you geo-political nerds to say that no, Ireland is not part of the UK. It’s literally taken me my entire lifetime to understand the nuances here, but quick geography lesson - *cough* SS - England, Scotland, and Wales are all countries that make up Great Britain. Add Northern Ireland to the mix and you have the UK. Northern Ireland shares a border with the Republic of Ireland, which is where Rory lives, which is its own country and totally separate from the UK. But yeah, due to its proximity and shared language, we do have a lot of cultural similarities, including apparently a penchant for charming films. Phew! Back to the interview.
SC I don't know if this is like a weird question but would you ever sit down with Eve and ask her to write a letter to her future self?
Rory Oh, yeah, I would, I would. I haven't done so yet, but I will. She's just only after getting her email address this year because she's 10, so I set her up with a gmail.
SS 10 year old email addresses are great. Mine was like red_soccer_spongebob like all of my favourite like colour, sport, TV show.
SC My first email address was dudette and then a company that doesn’t exist anymore.
SS I'm shocked you were able to get that.
MP Me too.
SC Yeah, I'm old.
SC Speaking of age and feeling old, I had to ask Rory about the way his email signs off and ends...
SC You end your letter with ‘Well, 46 year old Rory, hope all goes well. And you're not too grey or fat. You were a freight train 10 years ago.’
Rory Yeah. I I used to be mad into my fitness and my wife used to go bananas. She used to stop me playing sports and ‘you can't play soccer on a Friday night. No no, Friday night’s date night, and I used to be religious about going to the gym three times a week, I'd be like upset if I didn't get my third session in. So I did come away from that and now I'm not too concerned if I don't get to the gym, just as well with COVID. I got that phrase from an ex-colleagues who was a surfer dude, and he's like “I'm a frickin freight train, yeah!”
SS I can picture that person so clearly, in my head.
SC I would cast them in Rage With The Wind.
SS The letters to me are just kind of like a bunch of cliffhangers, but I'm also like a TV freak, like I watch so much TV that everything in life to me just like seems like a cliffhanger sometimes. And I'm like, I need to know what happens next season like, and I feel like now we got to know a little bit of your next season.
Rory Yeah, all the same characters are here. Nobody killed off.
SC Thank you so much. Is there anything else you want to tell us?
Rory I feel like I'm in… I'm with a priest and I've done something bad recently.
SS Well, we can do that too, if you want to do just a quick confession, we could just do that.
Rory Little bit of masturbation but aside from that I haven’t murdered anybody, so…
SS Okay, Cool cool cool cool cool.
MP I have to say that when Rory was talking about telling his friend in Tennessee about this letter, and his friend was like, "You're hilarious." And then he kind of reads. And he's like, "I am hilarious!" I think we all would agree with that. I mean, I laughed so many times during that interview. And just reading the letter itself, it comes through it translates.
SC Yeah, my like, main takeaway was that worry should be like a screenplay writer. He's so funny. He's hilarious.
SS Yeah, he's very funny. But I wonder if he's like the type of dad where his kids roll their eyes at him kind of thing. But then appreciate the humor when they grow up.
SC For sure! When he was talking about giving the sex talk, to one of his kids and all I was picturing was like, Oh my God, he's loving this. And his kids are totally like "ugh!"
SS It's like he like loves those awkward moments that he can just laugh at himself. Yeah, no, Rory was was super great, obviously, very funny, but sweet at the same time. And you can tell that this was a time in his life that he was terrified and so excited for.
SC And it was honest. And I feel like I mean, I'm kind of that way where like, when the word shit is going on in my life, and the word like wildly unpredictable it is, the more like, funny I try to be, you know, like, I use hope. I mean, I think everyone or a lot of people use humor as a way to like, sort of get through and talk about the issues that you're facing, but make it palatable for people or like digestible to talk about or something. And I think that is like really funny that he was even doing that with himself in this letter.
SS Yeah, totally.
SC I will say I hope that he gets to have an early retirement as he as he wishes.
MP Yeah. And he can spend that time maybe finally writing some comedy routines or those screenplays.
SS Or just bothering his children more.
SC I do think it's interesting to hear a man talk about fatherhood. I feel like that's not really something that like, I hear very often, even I was looking, one of my friends is and their partner having a baby and she has like a bunch of books that she bought. But like he was like, asking me like, Oh, do you know any good parenting podcast for dads? He's like, not even like parenting, like he wanted birthing like you know what to expect through pregnancy or like when you're literally delivering a baby or your partner is and blah blah, blah, and like I couldn't find any.
SS It's not shocking.
SC Not a single one. For guys. I think we don't we don't really hear men and they aren't encouraged to talk about birth or parenting or anything.
SS Yeah, and it was nice to hear Rory just be like "I'm scared" you know? Which I'm sure every single parent feels, so it was just yeah, refreshing to hear a father's perspective on like that fear but excitement at the same time.
SC Thank you so much Rory for talking to us, we wish you all the best for your family, and more importantly, an early retirement. This podcast is an Edit Audio original production, hosted and produced by SC Colbourn, SS Shin, and MP Passingham, but with help from the whole amazing team at Edit Audio.
Audio Network provided the music, and Thanks to Matt for creating FutureMe, and collaborating with us on this show by getting us in touch with letter writers! You can visit FutureMe [dot] org to write your own letter, and get in touch with us if you’d like to talk about your own FutureMe experience! Our email address is email@example.com. It’s in the shownotes if you need to check. See you next time! [theme music fades out]