I push open the restroom door and stop short as I enter a parallel universe. My daughter Georgia with her slender body and long auburn hair, had ten minutes prior, entered the same door. I expect to see her at the sink washing her hands. Instead there is a tall, lanky, sixty-year-old woman standing at the mirror brushing her long grey hair back into a pony tail.
We all know the feeling but it is so hard to describe. It’s as if you get caught in a tear in your ordinary day and the next moment suddenly contains infinite possibilities and realities. It felt like I was meeting Georgia as a sixty-year-old woman – a woman I will probably not know. She was an adult and I was younger. Like all those rare flashes, the seam closed quickly but the sensation remained.
We had just climbed the steep staircase from the bottom of The Cave with No Name. My friend Shelly and I had taken my twins and their friends to tour the cave and later attend a solstice celebration concert. There were about a hundred or so particpants but our tour was just our small party. The concert was an eclectic mix of instruments and traditions, poetry and singing. Fifteen minutes of the concert was performed in the darkest dark.
The experience had softened boundaries. It seemed completely natural to tell the old woman about my impressions. As we began to speak, Georgia emerged from her stall. The two stood next to each other and the physical resemblance was bizzarrely uncanny in spite of the 50-year age gap. Georgia gave me a quick hug and ran off to meet her sister and friends playing in the field, oblivious to any shift in reality.
The old woman laughed at the notion. We both agreed how interesting, and strangely important, it would be to speak to our young selves from across our almost completed lives. I asked her what she would say. She paused and very matter of factly offered this advice, “Don’t marry the handsome one, marry the smart one. The smart one will try harder.” She looked me in the eyes and walked out the door.
What would I say if I met the twelve-year-old me and only had a second to say something important before the crack in time closed. Would it make a difference? Could I craft a message that she could even understand? Would I just blank out like I did in the restroom when I asked myself the question. Or would I say something like, “it takes a while, but it gets way better.”