Sometimes (ahem usually when I’m flipping through the premium channels that Graham still hasn’t cancelled even though he’s been threatening to for like a year) I like to pause for a moment and imagine how awesome it would be if I could re-live my adolescence with the knowledge I have today. Movies do this kind of thing all the time, where the main character gets zapped back in time to their high school classes with their high school body. Hilarity ensues because that’s not supposed to happen, and also the character uses their adult smarts to navigate the situations that make adolescents want to crawl into holes and die, even when they think about them 15 years later just before they go to sleep at night.
I wonder what it would be like to go back in time this way, and what I’d do differently. I usually realize that the answer is “not much,” because of the things I wanted to fix about myself as an adolescent, a lot of the problems weren’t me. A lot of the problems were that the solutions (flat irons, the Internet as we know it) weren’t invented yet, and other things (terrible people, mean parents, the boys I never dated for various reasons but usually because they were douchebags) are and always will be societal constants.
Looking back, I don’t think I made all that many mistakes when I was younger. I mean, perhaps I’d wash my face or shave my legs more often, or maybe I’d apply my Adult Me knowledge of student loans and go to college even when my parents refused to be involved with the process. I would have liked cooler music. I’d probably also stop being a self-righteous little asshole, because while a lot of people go through that phase in college, I was a bit accelerated in this sense and was an idealist prick at age sixteen. But overall, I was basically well-adjusted. I wasn’t awful. I didn’t get picked on.
If I could go back in time to any point, I’d probably skip high school altogether and go straight to after that when I got married (and, um, just not do that) and everything up until the age of 25, where I was pretty cool and thin for awhile there, and maybe do a few things differently in terms of dating and the people I hung out with. With few exceptions (like Vern, who used to wake me up at 9am on Sundays by coming into my apartment and throwing Jack in the Box at me), almost everyone from that time isn’t a part of my life anymore. What was funny and crazy when we were 23 became sad and dangerous by the time we hit 25, and perhaps there are people out there who are better/kinder/more forgiving than me, but I don’t really feel like putting up with people who get too drunk to function 6 days a week, other people who fuck strangers in bathrooms for coke, or other people who stay in abusive relationship after abusive relationship because it’s just easier to have a guy around.
And as far as the dating was concerned, I’d probably just burn down my phone and de-learn to text people (at least while I was drunk), because there were quite a few “I win because I didn’t call you back” situations that I ruined because I got hammered and thought something was cool and funny (it wasn’t). It’s not like I still want to be with these people or, in retrospect, think an actual relationship would have been possible, but it would have nice to have won a few more than I already did. I like winning, and I think the knowledge gained by 30-Year-Old Me would have helped in those situations.
ACTUALLY, you know what else 30-Year-Old Me could have done? Going back to high school, 30-Year-Old Me could have had some real talk moments with the goth kids, the drama kids, the hoodrat kids, and the future binge drinker kids. Some of these “kids” are now grown up and all over Facebook, and a lot of them are still them same. The hoodrat kids have sort of blended in with the future binge drinker kids, but I think we all knew that was going to happen. The goth kids have kids of their own now, and no fewer than four of them (I counted) are named after characters in The Crow and/or the lead singer of Nine Inch Nails. The drama kids are still the drama kids, except instead of crying at the lunch table every day, now they write self-pitying Facebook statuses and post a dozen self-portraits a day. Hey guys. Hey. You have not aged well. Stop. Especially with that cold sore on your upper lip.