A few years ago, I travelled through time to visit my 16-year-old self. It remains one of my most exciting adult experiences. I have shared this story with very few people since the event. Today, I get to share it with you too.
I didn’t fly in a time travel machine like you see in the movies. It was a bus ride. The instructions were clear as they were strict: Show up. Get on the bus. When you arrive at the destination, you have ONLY one hour to find your past self and to spend with them. Meet back at the bus in an hour. If you miss the bus, you get stuck in the past forever. That’s it.
Oh boy! I hurried to find her in a sea of faces. I found myself in a huge building with wide hallways, flooding with students in so many different uniform colours. Of course, I was in secondary school in my 6th year at 16. Duh. So I started searching for my school’s colours, all the while looking around, turning this way and that, resisting the urge to scream out my name.
There are so many kids, I was thinking. I’m running out of time. I have to be out of here in an hour. I can’t miss the bus. How do I find her? Do I ask someone? These were the thoughts swirling in my head. Then I stopped for a second and asked myself, where would I hang out? If I wasn’t in class, I was usually in the library, press club room, sickbay if one of the squad was ill or sneaking into the hostel for a meal. Just as I was fixing to ask one of the kids where the library was, it happened.
It was as though the air paused for a second. It felt like I was magnetized to her. There she was, so beautiful, so perfect. Something must have happened to my heart because I fell in love with myself all over again that day. I was content to stare at her for another moment but tiiiiiiiime… So I walked over. As I approached, she looked up and watched me walk towards her. All of this definitely happened in slow motion, I tell you. I tried to read her face. Was she shocked to see me? Excited? What I saw blew me over even further. There was this openness and trust. Then, she smiled at me. My heart by now was dripping water I was sure.
As I reached her, I took her hands in mine and said, “You are the most beautiful thing I ever saw”. And then I said, “Listen, we don’t have much time”. We moved over to a private space where I tried to download everything I could think of to make this amazing girl’s journey a little bit easier. I started with some petty nonsense like, “So and so are not your friends. Don’t listen to them. After imparting some grown up advice, I said to her, “Write. Write every day. We’ll need it cos we’re going to be a writer in the future.” How do you use your nouns when you’re speaking to yourself? Mm.
I was so proud of her. I was later going to discover that she carried out my instructions and advice to the letter. My visit didn’t change much through time, from the past. Although we started writing more seriously, secondary school still sucked. Did I really change anything? I doubt it. Arguably, this already happened. However, that trip was worth every second. I’d visit again if I could. Not to try to influence the future or anything. I’d cheer us on instead. I’d tell her she was and would always be amazing. I’d tell her to stay beautiful and unfazed because none of the disappointments or hurts we experienced could ever diminish that.
If you’re going to ask me how you can visit your 16-year-old self, don’t bother. Of course, it was a dream, although a lovely one at that. What did you think? If time travel machines exist anywhere in our world presently, they must be a well-kept secret. Otherwise, someone would have probably gone to Wuhan or something.