I’m sitting quietly in my living room, in my favorite cozy spot, listening to the soft lullaby sounds coming from the nighttime fixtures in my daughter’s room, where she sleeps, snuggled up and dreaming.
I’m sitting, drinking a cup of tea, and I’m looking at a time machine.
Okay, so I don’t actually drink tea; it’s a Coke. But the time machine is real.
It doesn’t look like what I thought a time machine would look like. It’s more dusty brown cardboard and less slick steel with blinking colored lights than I thought it would be.
But here it sits, with its gunky packaging taped smushed to my living room carpet. “Dulc” is scrawled haphazardly in big black Sharpie strokes across one side. The nickname of my ex-sister-in-law.
I want to open the box.
But I don’t.
Sitting here, looking at this box, I’m enjoying the feeling of wondering what’s inside much more than I know I will enjoy digging through its contents.
This time machine was delivered to me last weekend, while I was on a Seattle trip for my daughter’s fifth birthday. We drove the four-ish hours from Richland to Seattle so she could see the animals (specifically the leopards) at the Woodland Park Zoo, and her father.
For the first time in 3 years and 3.25 months.
At which point I felt very much like Ebenezer Scrooge, looking upon both a life I once lived and a future I had narrowly avoided.
But like a true time traveler, I was able to differentiate myself from the past and my current self. I guess it would be true that I played more of an anthropological role in this time-traveling experience. And I wasn’t entirely a *good* time traveler, since I threw the “butterfly effect” out the window.
My daughter was with me on this time-traveling experiment, so whenever we found ourselves in a situation that had the potential for negative consequences, I intervened. Who knows what past Jenn or alternate future Jenn would have done…I’m present Jenn on this journey, with one goal continuously at the forefront of my mind, regardless of the situation or location.
I recognize that my job as a parent is ultimately to shield this tiny human of mine from a world that wants to devour her. I’ve long since acknowledged that the only thing that stands between her ultimate demise or devastation at the hands of this life is me. Just little ole me.
This was continually reinforced on our epic time-traveling journey. It was exhausting.
Later, I would sit and reflect that truly everything in my life had lined up exactly how it was supposed to, in order to prepare me for this time-traveling voyage. Gratitude engulfed me, and continues to make an emotional mess out of this girl. But only if I sit and think back on all of the crazy events and their subsequent results which should make me feel angry, or undeserving.
But instead I feel overwhelmingly humbled for this opportunity at this life. But that’s a different blog for a different day.
So at the end of our journey, I received this time machine from 3 years and 3.25 months ago.
Which sits, in my living room.
But what does it promise?
Mementos of a baby Mila, with sweet, swirling memories of her as a joyous chubster?
Relics from a relationship gone wrong, in their telling and glorious immaturity?
Fragments from a past Jenn, tormented by her selfishness and sickness?
Actually I really just hoped I would find some of Mila’s “Baby’s First Christmas” ornaments. I know that they are just things, that will fade into non-existence someday, but knowing they existed out there *somewhere* and that I couldn’t have them for her, it always stung me a bit around the holidays.
Now that I think about it, it’s a bit too late for time-traveling tonight, and I’m still tired from this weekend.
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