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Published June 28 2012

Benshoof: Letter from 11-year-old self offers insight into past

Recently, a time capsule from 1998 was unearthed at my former elementary school. Included in that was a letter, written by my 11-year-old self to my future self, that offered me a lot of insight into my life at the time.

In handwriting suspiciously similar to my own today, the letter reads as follows (with specific names of people removed):

“Dear Sam, The teachers of Northern School were very nice. When I was this age, I desperately loved a girl named Stephanie. Hope you do now.

I’ll remember and I hope you will too, my friends and the art teacher.

I look forward to being you! I am one of the smartest kids in my class. Love, Sam – 11 years.”

Clearly, the letter says a lot about my past, much of which I don’t have time to get into here (most notably that I was a hopeless romantic at age 11, even though I’ve been unable to actually track down the Stephanie I was in love with – but that’s a story for another day).

But of everything in the letter, what I found most amusing was how proud I already was of my intellect.

Humility be damned, apparently.

And though I still like to think I’m a pretty smart guy (if you read my column on my audition for Jeopardy! a few weeks ago you probably gathered as much), I acknowledge that I certainly don’t know everything these days.

Sorry to disappoint you, 11-year-old self.

Indeed, my 11-year-old self has spurred my 25-year-old self to action. Over the next few weeks and months, I plan on getting out there to try new, bizarre, oddball things around the Fargo-Moorhead area (Nose hair waxing? Minnow racing? Lefse making?), and learn as much as I can while doing it.

Call it one man’s constant quest for knowledge, maybe.

And so, at this point in my 2012 Fargo life, before I kick off what I can only assume will be a thrilling, epic and sprawling quest, it seems appropriate to write a letter to my 2026 self to document my life right now.

And perhaps, like when 2012 me read the 1998 letter for the first time, 2026 Sam Benshoof will look back and say:

“What a swell fellow.”

Dear Sam, The people of Fargo-Moorhead were very nice. When I was this age, I desperately loved a woman named Pippa Middleton. Hope you do now.

I’ll remember and I hope you will, too, the people you met and the things that you tried for the first time around here, like spending an entire day as a mall rat at West Acres. That was special.

I look forward to being you! I’m pretty smart, but I don’t know everything. I’m going to try and learn as much as I can, though, and then write about it in my column along the way.

Love, Sam – 25 years.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Sam Benshoof at (701) 241-5535