When I was younger, I was bitter and unhappy with who I was, so I used to dream about going back and reliving certain moments in my life to change its course—to make me happier, to make everything better, to make everything perfect, I guess.
The fact is, our life isn’t a Choose Your Own Adventure book. We aren’t allowed to make a decision, then go back and see what would have happened had we done things differently. Sure, at times it feels like it would be nice, but in all honesty, would we want to?
I can say I’d wish I could go back and be more careful that one June day when I got into an accident with my mom’s car just after I got my license. I could wish to go back and choose to stay in college, or save more money, or something much more impactful, like going back to warn my grandmother before she passed away. I could wish all of these things, but it makes no sense to wish for things you know you can’t change.
If I change one small thing, it would cause a ripple effect on how my life has played out. I may not have the strong relationships that I share with my wonderful sisters today as an adult. I may not have my great brothers-in-law, my awesome nephew, and my beautiful nieces. And I may not have, by chance, walked into a bar early one Friday evening in March 2010 and met my soul mate.
Any change I could go back and make could potentially erase all of those things from my life, and I can’t possibly imagine living without any of them. The decisions I’ve made are mine. The scars I have mold me into who I am. And they have all shaped my life into something that I can’t imagine changing.
So while I may not have a desire to change any aspect of my life, going back to relive a certain moment has a certain appeal to me—not to change anything, but to just experience it again, to observe, possibly by re-inhabiting my body.
Christmas was always a happy time in my childhood. I always loved visiting my grandparents’ house on Christmas Eve, feeling the excitement of waiting for Santa, and giggling with my sisters Christmas morning, whispering between our bedroom doors to decide who was going to wake up Mom and Dad, passing out presents, putting on our new clothes, then off to my aunt and uncle’s house for dinner with the rest of the extended family, sharing the tales of our Christmas hauls with our cousins.
It was a wonderful and magical time, for me, and I’d love to go back and visit it just one more time.
I’d love to remember what it was like to feel the innocence of childhood; to revisit those who have gone and walk away with a fresh memory that would only be moments old, instead of the fading 40-year-old memory I now have; to hear their voices again and see them smile at me; to taste Gram’s cooking, and Auntie’s baking, and Grandpa’s bread; to feel the joy we all felt when the family was together, sharing old stories, and making new ones.
The older I get, the more I miss those times, and I’m sure that is true for just about everyone. The further away from a memory, the harder it is to recall. Such is the curse of growing older.
All we can do to help preserve it is pass along the memories we have to the children in our lives, so that we’re being present and living in what will become the memories they long to remember, because having the children in our lives is the closest we come to having a time machine.