If I could time travel, I would travel right back to younger me and tell me things.
Yes, I know one of the big rules of time travel is that you don’t go back and mess up your own future. Or reveal winning lottery numbers. These are things that break the space/time continuum and create splinter universes where people have lobster claws instead of human hands because every little piece of history matters. Please. I’m not a complete idiot.
But I’m not good at remembering numbers. Or who won big sporting events. But Younger Me would worry about screwing up the space/time continuum (we are very good about keeping it tidy), so one of the first things I’d say to Younger Me is “Oh, don’t worry about my spilling the beans on anything. You aren’t important in the future, so there’s nothing to screw up. It’s all good. We can talk.”
See? Future Me is kinda rude.
But Future Me will remember thinking that an say, “Sorry, that’s not what I meant. You’re not vice president of the United States or head of a company or famous. In fact, neighbors who live two doors down will argue whether your real name is Leonard or Jim. See? Not important.”
Future Me is a big fucking tool.
But Future Me will continue and say, “No, I’m not a tool. Let me finish. You’re incredibly important to lovely, lovely people. You are so fucking loved that your heart is gonna explode in six different directions. You have family. Big family. Online family. You have goddaughters and a god son and they all turn out amazing. You will be in love and important in a few different men’s lives. Friends in your life will change you forever. It’s incredible. You will know all kinds of joy.”
This sounds better.
“Yeah, life is good. Some days suck, of course, and there’s a little cancer scare ahead, so get those moles checked out.”
“Just be careful. Slap on the sunscreen every day. Don’t worry too much. After all, I’m here from the future, arent I? Just be diligent.”
And it’s true. He’s here.
“Oooo, guess what?” Future Me asks, but does not pause for my guess. “You become a writer.”
I will explain I am a writer already.
“No, you’re really not. You’re not that good and you don’t take it seriously. Some people get better in a year or two but you’re on the slow track, Champ. So keep practicing.”
I will ask Future Me, “Will I ever master commas?”
“No. But luckily, you will work with editors much smarter than you. More importantly, you meet so many great people and friends through writing. It’s amazing. And strange. You will post pictures of your stuffed dolls online and people will talk about them and be eager to meet the various monsters in your home.”
“I am a writer who posts pictures of dolls?”
“No, it’s okay,” Future Me will explain. “It’s a blast. It’s like recess on the internet. You will have friends you never met who are so unbelievably kind to you. And gracious. And people will read your books and write reviews that are like love letters from their heart right to yours. And some reviews are funny and saucy and short and three sentences, but right-at-your-heart sentences.”
“So, everyone loves me?”
“Oh, God, no. No, some people hate you as a writer. They aren’t shy about saying it. One reviewer said she’d rather chew off her own arm rather than read your books.”
“No, that’s okay, as in really okay. In the future, you can accept their opinion as true for them and let it be. You might get stung, but the love, the crazy, outrageous sparkling love is gonna outweigh everything.”
That’s nice to hear.
“It’s better than nice. You threw a release day party for The Butterfly King and so many people came, and played, and started reading your book right away, and then sent you messages of love. It was amazing. It’s hard to express gratitude for that kind of love. And it’s equally okay if friends don’t care for your writing because they were honest and honesty is celebrated in the future.”
This is where I begin to suspect Future Me is full of shit.
“Well, we’re trying. People are still learning to be fully honest with each other, but the world changes a lot in the next few decades. Some ways worse. And in a ton of ways, better. More people come out of the closet in the future. Not just the gay closet. The mental health closet, the gender fluidity closet, the introvert closet, the I-like-weird-shit closet. People share more of their true hearts. We’re not perfect, but people are growing their compassion and kindness.”
I would tell these things to my seventeen-year-old self so he could start opening his heart now, start getting it ready to bear this future love, this love of friends and readers and family.
Future Me would also say, “The Chicago Bears win the 1985 Superbowl, so if you can, get some money in on that action. Also, I think the human race is about to get lobster claw for hands because I shouldn’t have told you that. You shouldn’t mess with the space/time continuum. My bad.”
It’s okay,” I will say, “because I am the forgiving type, especially when the man before me is so damn handsome.”
That’s right. I said it.
Younger Me will say, “I hope you’re going to find a way to thank all these people for loving all those readers who become your friends.”
Future Me will say, “I will find a way.”
“So, how did you get back here in the past? Who invented time travel?”
Future Me will say, “Huggstibles.”
“Who is that?”
With a smirk and that smug I-know-more-than-you-do expression, Future Me will say, “You’ll see.”
See? Future Me is a little bitch.