Sunday, December 26, 2010

A long time childhood fascination with time travel.

I was downtown on Christmas Day. At the same time, in the same place I was last year.  Parked one space over. Thinking. If I could travel back in time exactly one year, what would I tell myself? Would I even listen?

Christmas Day 2009 I was halfway driven mad with cabin fever. And though overnight we had gotten eighteen inches of snow, I was determined to drive downtown and get some photos. I slid through several intersections, not seeing a single other car on my entire trip. I parked just south of the Gene Lehey mall, right next to the "Big Slides" where several unfortunate civic workers in heavy coveralls where in the process of digging out the sidewalks.  There was so much snow that the plows had to pile it in the middle of the street, forming a four foot high wall of white, that stretched east and west as far as you could see. And it was still snowing. It was quiet. Peaceful.

What fabulous tales I could tell myself, while watching the snow come down that Christmas. I remember I actually saw someone walking several blocks off in a hat and coat very similar to mine. And the thought crossed my mind briefly that it might be me from the future. Later mom would show me an Omaha World Herald article of a photo taken of that same person. "Look your little trip downtown made the paper" she said. "Lone photographer braves Christmas blizzard" read the headline.

So what if I could go back, through some quirk of fate stumble upon a Christmas bend in space and time and find myself on year in the past, face to face with myself. What would I tell me? The past me was looking forward to visiting Chicago and would fly out the next day at 9am. It would be two days after that before he would be able to spend time with Krista, the real reason he had made the trip.  Would I tell him that the night after we go to dinner she heads out to drink with her friends, completely overdoes it, and doesn't speak to you for the rest of the time you are there. Would knowing help him prepare for the crushing disappointment and feeling of abandonment? Would he not believe me? Would he not stay up all night the evening before their rendezvous playing Yatzee and drinking cup after cup of coffee with Grandma's 88 year old neighbor Flo? Would the extra sleep make any difference in how the evening turned out?

I'd tell him to get his Senior Recital programs mailed out earlier, and pay full postage for them, I'd tell him what to look for when the limo breaks down, and I'd tell him that Graduation should be held outside and to do whatever possible to make sure the forecast is accurate. Maybe I'd write him a note somehow.

Do I tell him about Brett and Heidi? How can I possibly make him understand the feeling of sorrow, anger, and regret that I have dealt with for the past week and a half. Nothing can make the past me FEEL what I'm feeling; make him experience the churning stomach acid every time I find something else in my apartment that reminds me of those two. The infernal acid that slowly burns a hole in my stomach like a hot poker."Fuck him!" I would say to my past self in disgust."Don't pick his ass up from the airport in the limo, don't help him get a job with maintenance when he gets back, don't help him build a bar. Especially don't buy him an hookah for his Birthday, save your money and buy fireworks or something... that would be a much better investment for your money."

"And what about Heidi?" my past self would probably ask.

"You know, I'm not sure." I would reply, "You're in for some amazing sex for the better part of a year, but when you move into your apartment... by the way we have an apartment, over Mo Java..."

"Adrienne finally drove you insane?" I would interrupt.

"More than you know..." I would laugh. "Anyways... when you move into your apartment you have to make a serious choice about her. I'd recommend cutting her off, quick like a bandaid and never look back."

"I don't think I could do that..." past me would sigh.

"It will be one of the most tormenting decisions of your life to this point. Some days I miss her more than I've ever missed anyone. My sheets still smell like her. I can't watch a single movie kiss without imagining the touch of her lips on mine. It drives me mad to think of something I could normally just tell her, that now I can't. And there are times when I know she will need someone to be there for here and there will be an empty void. Or worse, that place in her life will be filled by some other muscle-bound douche bag.."

"So why are you wearing the scarf she made you?"

"Yeah... I don't know... I found it in the wardrobe and I decided I would rather have it in my closet than stuck in a drawer in Omaha."

"So if you're this hung-up on her where was the big problem?" past me might ask, although he already knows the answer.

"If I remember correctly, you've already experienced part of the biggest issue. I can't trust her anymore. I used to be able to ask her where she was or what she was doing and I would get the truth, not the whole truth, but at least some of it. Now she hides everything. I honestly don't know how she does it, hiding so many different parts of herself from everyone."

We'd probably continue talking for a bit, until the cold and the snow got too much for us. Developing our own secret handshake, most likely.

As I look back on this year I can't help but think that so many things that happened were positive in the long run. Dr. Fawcett-Yeske left, but I got to go visit her in Colorado, further cementing our friendship. My late attempt at job searching ended up paying off with one of the most enjoyable jobs I've had in a while. And the purchase of my television would start in motion a long chain of events that would eventually lead to having my own apartment and a new sense of independence. Except for the last few weeks, this year had been relatively good. I'm determined to move on from this point with an open mind. Everything else has fallen into place... and who knows soon I may find a new girlfriend that I can make as happy as I used to make Heidi.

Merry Christmas.

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