I am 38 years old.
Now you know.
But I don’t know.
I don’t know how I can possibly be 38 years old.
First, because in my mind, my mother is 38 years old. And physics teaches us that my mom and I can’t be the same age.
In my mind, my mother has brown hair with a few blonde highlights. She wears jeans and a polo shirt. She makes me peanut butter and jelly. Impossible, since my son is allergic to peanut butter and we don’t keep it in the house.
My mothers yells at me for waking up my baby brother from his nap. Who? Who is napping?
My brother? My son?
My mom is planning my bat mitzvah. My Sweet Sixteen. She’s dropping me off at my boyfriend’s house. At college. At my new apartment.
I’m 20-something. Or something followed by the word “teen.” Impossible, I know, but so is 38 years old.
In the day-to-day in which I wake up, shower, get myself and my three children ready for work and school, I can submit to the possibility of being 38 years old. A 38 year old, after all, is a grown up who does grown up things, such as taking care of herself, her children, her bills, her errands and her home.
And I do these things. I’m not crazy, after all.
But when I finally have a moment to myself, and I sit in the reality in which I am 38 years old, I am confused.
Almost as confused as if I woke up one morning and I was 63.
Or on Mars.
Or being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
I don’t know how I can possibly be 38 years old.
True, it was a long time ago I played kickball in the front yard with my brother and the neighborhood kids. I know it was a long time ago because the details of these games are blurry, faded.
And, yes, it was a long time ago that I walked down the football field in a graduation gown. I can’t remember the color of the dress I wore underneath. So it must have been long ago, as my memory is excellent. And if it happened recently, I would certainly remember the color of my dress. I would remember the restaurant we ate lunch at. I would remember why I told my parents I didn’t want a party.
This certainly all happened long ago. It’s the past. It’s before. It’s inaccessible. Or is it?
Because sometimes, when I press play on a particular song and I close my eyes, I can touch the wet sand on the beach in Margate. I can smell the Fruit Loops soaking in a bowl of milk in the basement of Thurston Hall. I can hear high-pitched giggles around a long table at a restaurant in the East Village. I am present. In the middle of a very important conversation. That’s taking place miles and miles away from where I am sitting with my headphones loosely dangling from my ears. And the girls are wearing Baby Doll dresses with leggings. And the guys have Caesar haircuts like David Schwimmer.
Sometimes, when I am in the space between waking and dreaming, I hear Stephanie’s voice. If I was 38, Stephanie would already be long gone from this world.
Sometimes, I smell the burnt electric remnants of a blender mixing a chocolate Alba drink; I hear the organ playing; and I catch the vague outline of my Bubbi’s hydrangea-patterned nightgown. Impossible. It’s been 20 years since she would have been able to manage the steps to that apartment. And she’s gone, too.
You call it memory. But I call it time travel.
What’s the difference, really, between recall and time travel? If I can smell, hear, taste, and even touch 1992; how can you tell me I’m 38 years old?
I applaud their efforts, but physicists are looking in the wrong places for proof that time travel is possible.
They should be spending less time with quantum mechanics and more time with the human heart and brain.
Relativity baby. It’s special.
9 thoughts on “Proof of Time Travel, and Other Conclusions Based on Raw Emotion”
Perfect, Jen. I still feel like I’m 12, or 18 or….anything but what I am. So hard to wrap my head and/or my heart around reality.
You has me at this: “Firstly, because in my mind, my mother is 38 years old. And physics teaches us that my mom and I can’t be the same age.”…so very much of this post resonated with me– feels so good to know I’m not alone in thinking im forever 25 XOXO
A beautiful article!!
Beautiful, Jen. I too have an excellent memory- or at least I remember having one- but like you, I can’t recall so many details I know are in there somewhere. Those are the moments when I feel the years wearing on me. Oh- and when I actually see someone in their 20s!
I could have replaced 38 with 47 (and a few personal details) and this story would have been about me….
Oh my gosh Jen, this is beautiful. I feel the same way, how can I possibly be 38?!? It is impossible. My mother celebrated her 36th birthday twice because she forgot she was already 36, and it just feels like yesterday, or at the most 10 years ago. Some memories are so vivid, I feel like I can touch them. And more so, I wish I could.
I have no idea of how old I am but I have been told that I have been on the planet for about 50 years (depends on when you start counting)… and my mother is also still about 38… Love your work.
Thank you, caveman. I love your name.