As the decade – not just a year! a whole decade! woah! – comes to a close, I can’t help but look back with the hopes of learning how to move forward. Lately, I’ve been staring up at the ceiling in a fit of insomnia-induced reminiscing. If I could go back in time, what would I tell younger versions of me to make their lives easier? How much would it help… if at all? Could it even, Agnostigod forbid, hurt? The questions kept me up for so many nights in a row, I damn near forgot that the holidays were coming up and I needed to get my shopping done pronto!
Luckily, I have a hookup at NASA (shout out to my buddy Steve!). I offered to trade him free tickets to my shows for life, and in exchange he let me play around with some of their “top secret” time travel tech. Finally! A chance to answer some of the lingering questions plaguing my sleep! I decided to reach out to myself at some specifically formative points with the hope of providing some comfort and insight that could unstick me from some ruts. Or, at the very least, cushion the blows of some incoming difficulties.
What follows is my field notes from these excursions. I’ve removed personal details such as dates and locations for my own privacy, but I hope you find the contents as helpful and revelatory as I did.
Approached Meredith, age 4, at [date redacted] in [location redacted]. She was busy painting herself green and didn’t notice me squatting down next to her chair at first. I gently told her that I was a very important person with some very important news for her, and she finally looked up at me. Nonplussed.
She went back to painting herself.
I told her that she’d grow up to be a professional writer and comedian, hike an active volcano, and get to visit Australia like she always talked about. Scrunching her nose, she put her hands on her hips – smearing green all over her shorts (oh, Past Dad’ll be thrilled about that) – and whirled around.
“Am I a penguin?”
“…Uhm, no, but…”
“I! WANT! TO! BE! A! PENGUIN!“
Then she kicked me in the knee.
I hobbled over to the craft as her preschool teacher – what was her name? – rushed over to handle the whole green paint situation.
Attempted to approach Meredith, age 6, at [date redacted] in [location redacted]. However, I mistimed my arrival and she had already been wheeled into surgery.
Approached Meredith, age 13, at [date redacted] in [location redacted], walking down the hallway, presumably for a bathroom break. Informed her that I was her from the future, with valuable, life-changing advice to share. She screamed until it felt like the air around me was splitting in half, then continued to scream.
Returned to the craft immediately afterward. She was still screaming.
Approached Meredith, age 16, at [date redacted] in [location redacted]. Informed her who I was, and she immediately greeted me in Japanese while flashing two “V” signs.
I turned around and left. Goddamn weeaboo.
(Note to self: Come back with a printout of “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” next time.)
Approached Meredith, age 19, at [date redacted] in [location redacted]. She handed me a shot, and we downed our drinks in tandem. She shooed me away when I told her who I was and informed me that she didn’t really care. I poured her a glass of water and made sure she drank the whole thing before leaving.
Approached Meredith, age 21, at [date redacted] in [location redacted], staring out a window. I tiptoed behind her and placed my hand over her mouth. Her eyes bulged out, but I reassured her with a finger to the lips and raised eyebrows. She recognized me, flitted her eyes around the room, and whispered with timidity, “What are you doing here? Please be quiet!”
I nodded and looked at her dead in the eye. “Look, I know you’ve got entirely too much on your mind right now, but I have your answers: Yes, yes, no, yes, no, yes but then no, no, no, no, no, no, no, yes, yes, no, yes, and go paperless on all your bills.”
She gasped and, with tears spackling her eyes, held out her arms. I gave her a quick hug, fired off some finger guns, and made my leave.
I went back in time to teach them, but it turns out they taught me almost so much more. My head heavy with thoughts and emotions, I thanked Steve and headed home.
In my kitchen was… ME?!?! Not a very old me, either. Her undercut and the dark circles under her eyes had both grown out a little more, and she pierced her left eyebrow, but beyond that almost everything looked the same. She stood in my kitchen, rustling through the fridge, but looked over at me when I slinked over.
“Oh. Hey, dude. I’m you from, like, a month from now. Sorry, I just remembered you had more sandwich lettuce than you know what to do with, and I was out, so… yeah…”
WOAH! A chance to perhaps gain some wisdom from the future! What a fortunate day!
I held up my hand for a high five. “I get it, bro. No worries, but hey, I was wondering…”
“Oh. My dude. Dinosaurs are cool as fuuuuuuuck.”
Squealing with delight, I invited her to stay for a while and chat about what she’s learned from a brand new decade, but she declined, shooting me a finger gun and citing that she wanted to just go back to her own time and fall asleep watching Mandy.
Which, come to think of it, actually sounded pretty good, too, so we high fived again and she left.
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