Time Travel

I’m sitting in a diner with the seven-year-old version of myself. I chose a diner because it feels like the most comfortable place to be with my younger self. It’s night; it’s Christmas; the diner is decorated with garland and tinsel. We sit next to a big window so we can see traffic on the road. I know we both like to look at traffic. I’m hyper-sensitive to the song playing on the speakers and so is seven-year-old me. It’s an obscure song from the sixties: “96 Tears,” by ? and the Mysterians. I heard that exact same song once at House of Pies with my ex-husband before he became my ex-husband. Since I’ve traveled back in time, it’s 1990. Since it’s Christmas of 1990, I know these things: My sister was born prematurely earlier that year. In the summer, I was a flower girl at my dad’s cousin’s wedding. I wore a purple dress with puffy sleeves; I carried a bouquet filled with baby’s breath. In 1990, I’m still Catholic, but in a few years, I’ll be baptized a second time as a non-denominational Christian. In 1990, I have a blue radio and listen to it constantly. I also have an MC Hammer tape, but it might be unplayable by Christmas because the take ribbon gets ruined. I know that seven-year-old me is very observant, but nonjudgmental. I know seven-year-old me wants to connect with me, but I’m afraid to connect with her. In six months, I’ll be 40 and for some reason I don’t feel good about this. I don’t want seven-year-old me to know this, but when I look in her green-hazel eyes, I feel vulnerable. I want to solve her feelings of isolation. I know she feels a bit lost and can’t understand this yet. I don’t want her to know that I’m 39 and still feel isolated and lost. I know seven-year-old me wants coffee and pancakes. I let her have these things. I watch her pour syrup all over her pancakes and this helps me feel better. I’m supposed to tell her a story about a life lesson I learned, but I don’t want to give her one.