This post is brought to you by Katie Stirling, long-time Segullah Staffer and wonder woman extraordinaire, who is having an account hiccup at the moment.
Last week I listened to a This American Life podcast about superheroes. In one act, a man talked about how he had been taking an informal poll for years, asking people if they would rather be able to fly or make themselves invisible, and what they would do with their power. The answers were intriguing. A man who wanted to fly said he would fly his kid to school, fly to work, fly to the bar, and fly home. One woman who wanted invisibility said she would use it to steal all the cashmere sweaters she coveted. No one said they would use their superpower to fight crime, possibly because the flying and invisibility didn’t come with super strength. You’d be you, just flying or invisible. I’ve decided I would choose flying—oldest son forgets school lunch? Fly there, fly home, done.
Listening to the podcast made me think about two other fantasies I’ve had.
In 2009 I had my third child, just before my husband started a year of clinical rotations where was gone for two to three weeks at a time. To be honest, I don’t remember a lot about that year. I remember doing the daily things to keep my online business running, taking my oldest to preschool, and packing up the trappings to get two toddlers and a baby to the pool once or twice. I don’t remember being especially sad, but my husband says I sure wasn’t happy. Case in point—I went to the doctor because I kept having very painful headaches. He asked me what I liked to do for fun and I couldn’t think of a single thing. So instead, I burst into tears. Yeah, not happy.
It was during this year that I fantasizing about cashing out all the money in our bank account (which wasn’t much since my husband was in school and we were paying out of state tuition) and buying a one-way ticket to China. I served a mission in Taiwan so I’d be able to get around, but I’d be all alone and far away—no one crying or barfing in the night, no one whining for a sippy cup, no one needing a diaper change. I knew I would never actualize this fantasy. It’s not in my responsible, rule-following makeup to disappear. Eventually, situations changed, I became happier, and I found I didn’t need the fantasy anymore.
I had another baby almost a year ago. Thankfully, I didn’t have quite the emotional dip this time. Recently, however, when my nine-year-old claimed piano practice is the worst thing ever, my seven-year-old didn’t want to collect the garbage, my four-year-old whined about everything, and my baby needed to nurse all while I was trying to make dinner, I daydreamed about what it would be like if I could time travel just for one day. Would I go forward and see what it’s like when my kids are older and check to make sure I don’t buy that one-way ticket to China? Or would I go back in time and re-experience a day in my life? It didn’t take me long to decide. I’d go back and I know exactly where I’d go—the summer of 2000, age 21, working as a river guide on the Colorado River. I’d go to a trip where after all the passengers fell asleep, my now-husband and our friend Justin swam across the cool river, where it slows coming into Lake Powell, to the other side of the canyon in the warm, dark summer night. And I’d relish every second of it.
So now it’s time for my informal poll: if you could time travel for a day, where would you go—the future or the past? Or are you perfectly content in the present, and if so, will you be my Zen master?