Last week, I completed the 50 books in a year challenge that I issued myself. I should have ended with something epic, like War and Peace or Anna Karenina or Emma. But instead, Book #50 was the deliciously quick beach-worthy read, If I Could Turn Back Time, by Beth Harbison.
The premise of the book is that this 38-year old woman suddenly wakes up in her hometown, in the house that she grew up with, in her almost 18-year old body. She has to navigate her final days of high school, figure out why she’s apparently time traveled and try not to screw up the space-time continuum too much. As a novel, it was warm, entertaining, easy to read and made me laugh out loud at times. Oh, to have the body and complete and total lack of responsibility of an 18-year old again. If I Could Turn Back Time is the fantasy of every woman who has ever thought, “If I could go back in time, knowing what I know now, I’d do things so differently…”
After finishing the novel, I spent one evening soaking in the bathtub, contemplating that very question. What would I change, if I knew then what I know now?
There were certainly some moments from high school that I’m not particularly proud of. The time I screamed “I hate you!” to my mother probably tops that list. My choice in boyfriends was more miss than hit. And no one should ever be allowed to own as many pairs of high waist colored western jeans as I did.
College? Who doesn’t have some seriously cringe-worthy moments from then? To this day, the words Alabama Slammer make make my ears turn red and my stomach heave.
After we’d been dating a few months, Outdoor Guy and I realized we had lived right across the street from each other in college, but never met. We’ve often joked that if my car would have broken down in our driveway or he would have needed to borrow a cup of sugar, we could have saved ourselves a lot of heartache and misery we both experienced in our mid-20s by falling in love right then and there.
Except it wouldn’t have worked. I would have thought he was incredibly handsome and smart and funny, just like I did the first time I met him seven years later. And we might even have become friends. But I was so wrapped up in myself and my plans that I wouldn’t have given the quiet wildlife major with the bright baby blues much consideration as a future husband. I was going to travel the world, kick ass and take names. A husband and kids and all of that was something for when I was older. Much, much older.
Outdoor Guy wouldn’t have been interested in me back then, either. I would have terrified him with my smugness and self-centered-ness. He might have been impressed with my command of the card game Pitch, but not so much the amount of time I spent chasing a self-important steer jock and drinking in bars. (Dad, if you ever read this, just remember, I did all this while still pulling a 4.0 and working three jobs. Please forgive me.)
Despite all my mis-steps and misadventures and missed opportunities, I am living and loving the life I have now and I am deeply grateful for it. Grateful that my heart changed to need the love of a partner and a simpler life. Grateful that I found and married my wonderful husband. Blessed that we share such a dynamic daughter. Humbled by my rock-solid family and amazing friends. Thankful to be living my simple life in a on a dirt road surrounded every day by the abundance and beauty of nature.
If I could turn back time, what would I go back and change?
Not one thing. I am exactly where I want, and need, to be.