If I Could Turn Back Time

I just spent the better part of three days taking photographs of notebook pages so I can store them “digitally” on my computer.
This, naturally, is to do with The Move.
(ASIDE: I realize many of you will be thinking, “Hasn’t he moved yet?” The answer is, No; the move is still eight days away. That’s what I get for announcing our move six weeks before the fact.)
We’re determined to use this as an opportunity to de-clutter, which means ruthlessly ridding our flat of things we don’t actually need—like 20 or so volumes of journals dating back to my teens. They take up a scandalous amount of shelf space and I have finally reached a point in my life where I am not so obsessive that I need to have them near to hand (my therapist would be so proud) so I am packing them up for storage in my father-in-law’s loft.
Still, I couldn’t let them go without making some sort of record of them (I said I was getting better, I didn’t say I was cured) and that involved photographing each and every page and uploading them to my PC.
I didn’t read them (who has the time, or the will?), but the odd sentence jumped out at me occasionally, often enough to let me know—on a deep and visceral level—that if I had access to a time machine and could use it only once, I wouldn’t go back in time to meet George Washington or Winston Churchill or even Jesus, I’d go back to find my 20-something self so I could slap the self-obsessed smugness out of him.

\”First stop, 1978, so I can slap the shit out of myself…\”

I’d do that, even knowing that my 20-something self would never bother listening to any hard-won wisdom coming from his well-over-20-something self and it would be a wasted trip but, gosh, I’d have to try; I was such an asshole when I was younger.

Seriously, isn\’t that a face just begging to be slapped?

Coming face-to-face with my former self in those ancient journal entries was occasionally amusing, sometimes baffling (What on earth did I do that for?) and often cringe inducing. And then it got worse; after a while I noticed that my 20-something self was rapidly heading toward my 30-something self, and he was still an asshole, but an asshole now raising children! How could they let this happen? (Whoever they are.)

Finally, my early-40-something-self acquired a proper PC and the journal became electronic so I was spared any additional peeks into my past. By that time, I was a single man again and I would say I was going through my second childhood except you have to grow up first to have a second childhood.
When I gratefully glimpsed the last snippets of my former life, my I-can’t-really-be-40-something-can-I? self was as angst-ridden, confused and self-centered as ever, which leaves me to wonder how I ended up here.
But somehow, that erstwhile bundle of neurosis managed to make the choices (dumb luck is my guess) that would lead him to Ireland, an expat adventure and the woman who would become my long-suffering wife, so perhaps he didn’t turn out so badly after all, despite his inauspicious start.

Not such a bad guy, after all.

If given a shot at that time-machine, maybe it would be best to leave my 20-something self to fumble along on his meandering way and, instead, pay a visit to Coca-Cola’s board room in 1985 where some bright spark is saying, “I have an idea, let’s take our successful formula and change it!” He would benefit more from a slap upside the head than my 20-something self would.

9 thoughts on “If I Could Turn Back Time

  1. Ha ha ha, I can't believe you've spent all that time photographing your journals. Makes me feel better about my husband whose old university notes have been in the garage for 20-odd years. He's never looked at them but you never know when “there might just be something useful in there\”. Personally, I'd hate for future generations to read anything I wrote when I was younger – so embarrassing. Mine were shredded long ago. I'd like to get one of those garden burner thingies – it's the right time of year for a good old bonfire after all.


  2. Yes, we had some good times, eh? The late night Risk games, the Monty Python marathons…those were the days. And you were a very good friend.


  3. That's my fear now, that the boxes will be forgotten and some family sometime in the future will stumble upon them and read the journals and thinks, \”My Lord, what a prat this guys was!\”


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