Do you ever watch a movie trailer and suddenly your brain wakes up and starts firing out ideas? That used to happen to me a lot. Now it happens rarely. I should probably be glad it ever happens any more, considering my age and the fact that I feel pretty much like I've seen it all...
Nevertheless, what sparked this post is a trailer I saw for a new movie, About Time. I love Bill Nighy [British actor] and I love the premise of the movie:
It made me start thinking, what would be the moments in my life I'd like to "do over"? There are so many to choose from I could likely write a book.
Mostly I cringe, thinking about all the stupid and thoughtless things I blurted out when I was Young and Stupid. I used to be famous for opening my mouth and inserting my foot.
And of course I did a lot of idiotic things when I was Young and Stupid.
I was housesitting for some friends of my parents when I was in college, and I found a big can of gourmet popcorn and proceeded to eat the entire thing, over the course of several days. I was never asked to housesit for them again.
The couple divorced later. I've always wondered if they had a big fight "You ate all the popcorn!" / "I did not! YOU ate it!" Yikes. I would hope I didn't cause the divorce. Probably not. Probably the fact that the wife was having numerous affairs had something to do with it...
I once was upset and crying about something and I yelled at my parents' dog, a basset hound. She literally cringed. Boy, do I wish I could take that back. Whatever I was hysterical about wasn't her fault. I felt terrible about it later.
I used to regularly get mad at my brother when we were kids and mess up his room, his toys, etc. I'd steal his shirts and wear them to make mud pies. I was awful. It's amazing he even still speaks to me.
In a way, I wish I could go back to my younger self and say listen, have more fun when you're young and strong and feel good! Go to the lake more. Swim more. Play more tennis and basketball. Write more poetry. Get out and explore out of the way places. Don't stay in a chair reading so much. Get and DO more stuff.
I remember as a young writer thinking, I have nothing to write about. I haven't DONE anything. That wasn't entirely true. I did a few cool things, like hanging out with Allen Ginsberg once at a party. He was the tiniest man I'd ever seen - I'm 5'4 and I towered over him. Why didn't I write about that?!
Why didn't I write more about the summer I spent in England when I was in grad school? That was a summer that changed me, in ways I didn't even realize for years afterwards.
Then, of course, there's the regret that I didn't spend more time with people I loved that are now gone.
I wish that I could go back and spend more time talking to my dad.
When I finished college, he came to Athens and helped me load up everything and drove my car home. I was miserable with an ear infection and huddled in the front seat, unable to get any pain relief, so I asked him to tell me stories. He talked for the entire 6+ hours we were on the road. I was in so much pain I only vaguely remember what he said. The one thing that sticks out for me was that he said he knew the first time he saw my mom that he was going to marry her.
I spent a lot of time when I was young feeling like the Ugly Duckling because I felt like I had to compete with my femme fatale mother's reputation as a young woman. She got a lot of proposals before she said Yes to my dad.
I wish I could just go back and inject my younger self with more self-confidence and be more forgiving of myself. I was [and am] a more quirky individual than mom, and that's OK - I NOW know.
Comparing yourself to someone else is such a waste of time.
Despite the fact that I am older and somewhat more decrepit than I'd like, I am so glad I have a better perspective on life now. I have more self-confidence. I am more willing to forgive myself. I am not interested in the latest fashions or the coolest new thing, or in trying to make people like me.
Maybe I don't need to really "do over" anything. Maybe all the awkwardness and missteps happened for a reason. I like to think I have learned from my mistakes.
Then again, if a magic wand could be employed to give me time travel abilities, I am pretty sure I would be zipping around the universe, causing some ripple effects...