Turning Back the Clocks
My social media feeds this morning have been filled with various iterations of the following:
The meme made me think. If I could turn back the clock to twenty, would I want to?
My immediate (and powerful) reaction was hell, no.
I had a specific image of twenty come to mind. I was in the living room of the apartment that I shared with my now-ex. The generous space was only furnished with a cheap couch from Montgomery Ward and a large, black, hand-me-down trunk that was serving as a television stand. It was shabby and yet I had such pride in the space because it was mine.
It was a Sunday, and so I was home just after 6:00 pm from my job as the manager of a tanning salon. I was grabbing a quick bite to eat before tackling an assignment for one of my classes (which was always frustrating because this professor used an online platform for submission and our dial-up internet often wasn’t up to the task).
While eating, my then-boyfriend came through the door. As always when he returned from his work at Sea World, our pug pressed her nose into every inch of his uniform, inhaling the delicious (to her) smells of sweat, oil and fish. He soon stripped off his uniform and headed to the shower while I headed to the home office to begin my assignment.
We were in limbo that year. His job offered no opportunity for advanced, he found the work un-stimulating and the wages were not sufficient to provide for any real future. He didn’t have much direction, but knew that we would most likely have to leave San Antonio in order for him to secure something better in his field.
Meanwhile, I had already given up on my first degree choice and was weighing options for a second choice while I completed the basic requirements. I hesitated to make any firm decisions, waiting instead to see where his job would take us.
Yes, in some ways life was easier then. Having little in terms of income or possessions meant there was little to lose. I had the certainty only found in the young that my boyfriend would always be by my side. I was drifting, but also not too worried about it because time seemed to stretch out in front of me like an endless Texas highway.
But I still wouldn’t want to go back.
Because I am grateful for every experience I’ve since then, either because I enjoyed it in the moment or because that event imbued me with wisdom and perspective. And even though I would love to have the smooth skin of twenty again or the ability to recover easily from a late night, I would much rather have the more wrinkled and tired version of myself that I am now. Because this is the person that my twenty-year-old self was waiting to find.
How about you? Would you want to turn back the clock? If so, to what age?