A friend once asked me “If you could travel back in time, would you change anything?” Once upon a time I would have jumped aboard that time machine quicker than a whippet, no hesitations. I would have changed a hundred and one things. I would have travelled down different paths. I would have erased all the hurt and pain.
Now, I am not so sure.
Ambiguity in my answer, my friend took my hand and led me through an enchanted forest. As I walk through this magical land, excitement fills my veins. Suddenly, we arrive at an old oak tree. It tower over us, with branches like arms of muscles, strong and curiously comforting.
My friend pulled out a golden key and said, “This will give you the answer”. Dazed and confused, I took the key and before I could ask any questions, she pointed to a miniature wooden door with an oversized keyhole. A tree with a magic door wasn’t quite the time machine I had anticipated. I anxiously crept over to the wooden door, a ray of light shone out of the keyhole. I crouched down and put my inquisitive eye up against the hole. It was at this moment, I realised this key held the memories of my past. There was a moment of unwillingness before I decided to take the plunge and place the key upon its hole. The ground begun to shake beneath me and the branches rattled angrily. The roots wrapped their arms around me and heaved me through the door of my past. There was no going back.
Trundling down this time-warp to a place of the unknown, I envisaged a time in which I’d like to begin my journey. As the dust begins to settle, I find myself in my grandfather’s house. Perched upon his knee, I listen to him ramble on about the Wild West. I have very few memories of my granddad, he died when I was six. As time goes by, we forget the small details. We forget their faces, their voice and their mannerisms. All we are left with is a pocketful of memories we treasure and try to hold on to. Only, over time our pockets become worn and so our memories trickle out and become forever lost. To look at my grandfather’s face and listen to him waffle on about the war once again, would be a moment to cherish.
My Granny died when I was 10, I remember visiting her house when she had just passed. People were coming in and out with pieces of her life. Her hair still lay upon the carpet from the haircut she had the day before. I wanted to scoop up those curly grey locks and hold onto them forever. I didn’t ever want to forget this incredible lady. 17 years trundle by and only a few memories remain. As the dust settles, I find myself in the garden listening to the inspiring stories which fall from her lips. As our loved ones leave us behind, there are many questions we wished we would have asked. How we wish we could go back and fully listen to their tales of yesteryear.
I embrace my joyful childhood in a midst of running beaches, laughing with my bestie and feeling the wind sweep through my hair on a sunny bike ride. I attempt to jump to the fourth monkey bar and fail as I did the day I broke my arm. I knock at my best friend’s door, fishing rods in arms as we embark on another riverside adventure. The river is as pure as were young. Oh, how I long to lead such an innocent existence once again. Our only concern was which sweets to buy at the weekend. Young, free and careless, we lived in our own rose-tinted bubble.
One day that bubble burst and life wasn’t quite the same.
Some places were just too painful to experience over again, but as the dust settles I watch from afar. It was during these darker moments when I begun to reflect on how truly lucky I am to be alive.
I’d travelled back to a dark time when food was my poison and pills were my remedy. There I was, my teenage self. She was too damn selfish to think about anyone else. Too wrapped up in her own hurt and misery. She lay motionless, submerged in a bathtub. Black tissues and empty bottles her only companion. I reach over, pull her up into my arms and breathe life into her comatose body.
She breathes once again.
I slap her hard across the face. A reality check.
As I close the door to the darkness which was once my life, she whispers quietly “Thank you”.
Most of us do things we aren’t so proud of. If we were given a magic eraser to wipe out all the hurt, all the bad things of our past, most of us wouldn’t hesitate to do so. I had no intentions to kill myself, but I didn’t want to ‘feel’ anymore. I was on self-destruct mode for quite some time before I discovered the true beauty of existing. Little did I know, an eating disorder and addiction to numbness were the least of my problems as I step upon the brink of true darkness.
I escaped death once again, as I was hurled full throttle down the motorway next to an enraged ex-boyfriend. In a spiral of insanity, he declared he was going to kill us both. I pulled the car door open and tried to escape. I’d rather kill myself than let him kill me. The truth was, every day I spent with this violent bully, I died a little more inside. The only time I felt alive was when his hands were wrapped around my neck. Two years and one daughter later, it took me to escape the shackles that imprisoned me for so long. As the dust settles, I run down the same road of freedom, screaming, “I’m free, I’m free”, tears in my eyes and an aliveness in my heart. It was one of the best days of my life. Things didn’t instantaneously become better, I was a single mum locked in a bitter court battle. However, as that chapter closed, I was able to embark on a new one.
How many of you had to kiss a few frogs to get to your prince? In true fairy-tale fashion, we learn by our mistakes. In the end, we see the frog for what he is, just a frog. We are all chasing after our happily ever after. In reality, it isn’t quite the same as the love romances we see in those Disney films. However, when we meet the one we fall in love with, all the frogs from our past begin to disappear.
As the dust settles, I find myself in a crowded room. 19-years-old and enjoying a night out with my friends, my eyes catch those of my husband-to-be. I travel back to a time when we looked into each other’s eyes and thought we were the luckiest people alive. Dancing, romancing and loving one another. Running around the streets of Paris, smooching on the beaches of Mexico, our hearts were fit to burst. There wasn’t one thing I would change. Not one thing.
If there is one feeling I would wish to feel all over again, the answer is quite simple. The moment I held my children in my arms for the very first time. If only we could bottle that feeling of pure ecstasy. If only we could pop open that bottle at times we feel low.
With the highs comes the lows. I’ll never forget the phone call I received from my father as he told me he had just months to live. There was no need to relive it because I can recall every detail and every word that was spoken. Time stood still. As I brush the dust off once again, I run over to my father and hug him. I hug him like the day I clung onto his lifeless body in the morgue. He’d push me off and tell me not to be so soft. The truth is, I would do anything to see him again. From diagnosis to his death bed, nothing prepared us for the sadness and emptiness we experienced. And so, we are left with more holes in our pockets, more emptiness in our hearts.
Fast forward 4 weeks and it was my wedding day, absent my father. Although it was a bitter-sweet occasion, it was one of the best days of my life. When I looked into my husband’s eyes, I knew this was the man I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. It was perfect, and a tribute to my father.
For better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part. And so live went on. As a married couple, we experienced the better times, and the worse. We experienced richness (Not of the money kind!) and poorness, we experienced sickness and felt grateful for our health. There were even times when we thought we wouldn’t make it, but we did. Would I take back all the harsh words, disputes and fights? Heck no! It is through these bad times when we became, not only stronger, but wiser too. We learn from our mistakes and we create new paths. As much as it was fun to travel through the good times, we get more from travelling through the bad.
The good times become good memories, but the bad times become good lessons.
And so I come to the end of my time travelling journey. I creep out from the wooden door and back into the enchanted forest. As I begin to dust myself down, my friend greets me with a smile. She asks me once again “If you could travel back in time, would you change anything?” I smile back at her and say, “I wouldn’t change a damn thing!”.
For now I know the true meaning of life…
If you could travel back in a time, would you change anything?