I’ve always been interested in the subject of time travel. Not from a dissecting its possibilities for real-life, but just from the fun, Back to the Future days of reliving a day and traveling back to see how it affected things. I watched a movie this past weekend about the concept. It was about a young, inexperienced, self-conscious but good guy who was new at love and life and learned at 21, he could travel back in time. He could repeat some of his most awkward life moments (wouldn’t we all want that first kiss back or other “firsts”) and get a redo to appear more confident. He didn’t go overboard and use it to his advantage too often, as his dad had warned, but there were a few times he wanted to and learned that he was drastically rewriting fate.
As I watched the movie I couldn’t help but think what moments I might relive in life. What do-overs would I have? I try to not live with any regrets, because I like to think I learn from each of my mistakes and they somehow make me a better or more whole person. But I’m sure I wish I could take back an email or phone call or decision here and there. Much to the dismay of my parents, I would still go see all the same Phish shows I did and make the same mistakes in my salad days, because they completely taught me so much about life today.
The movie progressed and the boy saw his sister come close to death. He went back in time to save her from making a mistake and saw that when he returned, his daughter was now a son. His dad told him that he couldn’t relive the moment when sperm and egg met, so there was no way to recreate the same kid. He’d have to live with his sister’s near-death experience. And later, he learned that his father was dying of cancer. He could go back and experience moments with him but couldn’t rewrite the future without it affecting his own current happiness. His dad, also a time traveler, realized the moment when his son was looking at him for the last time, and they decided to take a trip back together to their favorite memory. It was father and son walking on the beach, skipping rocks, having a blast at a young age. It reminded me of many times my own father and I walked on the beach, pretending, talking, thinking we could save the world. To say I cried is an understatement. My dad, thankfully, is very healthy and alive, but I had to imagine that knowing I was with him for the last time, I’d probably have chosen to recreate the same exact memory.
I wonder what other people would relive? Fortunately for me, I am about to experience birthing a son for the second time, which will not be like the first time but still possess the same wonder and excitement (I hope). I’d love to relive the day my husband asked me to marry him because it was such a fun day. We toured all of lower Manhattan in NYC, just the two of us, without a care in the world. He, knowing he was proposing at any given moment, never let on that he was nervous or had any tricks up his sleeve. So one can imagine the surprise when he later pulled out a beautiful ring after almost three years of dating.
I’d also pick many moments from my youth, just to experience again, but not change. As the movie played out, the moral of the story became one that encouraged the protagonist not to go rewriting history but just to enjoy life in the here and now. If he did go back in time, it was to relive the day exactly as he’d done before and just appreciate the simple beauties. I really want to try to do this as my life moves forward. Think about the past in a positive way and accept today as it is, and try to carve out the future for how I’d like it to be. I know this is all incredibly idealistic and impossible, but I still like the idea of it.
Just off the cuff, some of the days I’d like to re-live would include (in no particular order)
The day Sean asked me to marry him
My first Phish show
Playing UNO with my paternal grandfather
Hugging my maternal grandfather or chatting with him on AOL chat and knowing he was really the only person that ever called me Jen and didn’t annoy me with it. “hi Jen” I can hear him say.
I wish I could relive meeting Sean because I don’t remember when it happened. We were just casual friends for a while and I wish I had a better memory of it.
The “hat party” night in college. All of my UT friends who were with me that night will surely remember it.
My trip to Big Cypress
Indian Princess outings with my dad
Probably my sister being born just because I’d love to see it all again through a different lens.
Anytime during Summer Camp or Montreat, especially playing guitar at Montreat in the talent show my senior year
My wedding day. So much fun!
Some of my best swim team days or playing with neighborhood friends
Not all of these are monumental achievement days but some are just really positive memories from my youth. I think sometimes we try so hard to be perfect and beat ourselves up that we forget to enjoy the imperfect that surrounds us. The UNO games, the hat party night, a lot of the memories above had no expectations but just were organic, spur-of-the-moment days that stand out in my memory. I hope that I am creating these for my son and will continue to do so for my children. Yesterday Cohen and I played in the pool and took a float and pretended it was a pirate ship. We sailed around the pool looking for pirates and crocodiles and octopus and mermaids. We had so much fun playing pretend. And later, Sean jumped in and acted like the crocodile. Cohen loved every single bit of it and gladly entertained my love for imagination and creative play. I hope I don’t give him a multiple personality complex or the teachers think he’s crazy bc he sees imaginary things a lot. But I wonder if that’s a moment he’d like to relive, because we both had so much fun.
I encourage everyone to live each day like it’s one they’ll hope to relive again some time in the future!