Last night, for example, I shot up in bed and proclaimed to the Brooklyn Baby Daddy that Cromwell, our cat, was glowing red with spots. As we both scrutinized Cromwell by the light of the moon, I realized that I was just dreaming/imagining it, and promptly drifted off to sleep, leaving Dave a bit dazed, to say the least.
Possibly even stranger than that, I sometimes forget where I am while in that state and assume that I'm back in my childhood bed in Kentucky, still a kid or preteen or teenager. This happened to me a few nights ago and again I shot up, panicking and scared.
Now is when this post gets a bit sci-fy, a bit Freaky Friday on you. So please, bear with me.
When I was around 16, I experienced one of the most traumatic years of my life. It's not exclusively my dirty laundry to air, but there was domestic trouble involved, a lot of yelling and instability, financial worries and a general sense of unhappiness and unease on the home front. Added to my already toiling hormones, this was not good. I gained weight (my standard response to stress, as evidenced by my current pot-belly), experienced a depression that made me look like a Cymbalta commercial, and even sort-of, kind-of, half-assedly (thank God) attempted suicide. (A stunt that landed me in the "guidance counselor's" office - the misogynist coach who needed more desk time to validate his job and told me that I'd make some man very happy one day, so I should just go ahead and live.)
I was desperately lonely, but only allowed myself to pursue romantic attractions to boys/men who were totally unavailable: my closeted gay best friend, the mopey drummer in the grunge garage band who barely noticed me, Keanu Reeves, and the like. I told myself that I was unlovable - too fat, too emotional, too bizarre to have a boyfriend. I figured that love was something I'd get later in life - when I'd lost the weight, moved away from the craziness, and "found" myself.
In the meanwhile, I'd lie in bed and pretend (this is about to get incredibly nerdy) that I could travel into the future - just for a day, and live 24 hours in my future self's skin. I'd imagine waking up in a fluffy white bed, rolling over to face an incredibly rugged and handsome man, snoozing blissfully. I'd look down at my body, marveling at my svelte belly and flawlessly tan skin. I'd look around the room, taking in its understated, elegant, cigarette-smoke-free luxury. Then my future husband, Paul or Raoul or Xavier (or even, sometimes, David) would roll over and do things to me that I'd only ever imagined or witnessed in R-rated movies at that time. Later, we'd have a delicious breakfast with our adorable kid(s) before going off to our amazing jobs (he did something incredibly lucrative and I was a Broadway actress).
I'm ashamed to tell you how many times I resorted to this fantasy as an escape from my life.
So, the other night as I drifted off, I had this uncanny feeling that I was being pulled back to the past, that 16 year old Randi was finally succeeding in trading places with her future self. And, as nuts as this may sound, for a moment I felt that I should just go, and let her experience my current life.
She might be a bit surprised. We do not live in the lap of luxury. I am not thin, nor an actress, nor do I have an easy, stress-free life. But all my dreams came true.
I'm in love with my husband, and he's good to me. We fight, like normal couples, but we've learned (and continue to learn) how to do so effectively and respectfully. We provide for ourselves and our family with no problem, even if we aren't rich. We have the most wonderful child we could have hoped for, and our lives our filled with love and happiness.
Past Randi would be relieved, overjoyed to be in my place. She probably wouldn't want to return.
And that's the thought that occurred to me before I drifted off, a shattering fear that if I did travel back and exchange places with my former self, that I wouldn't be able to get back here. That I'd be stuck there for another 18 years, waiting to get back to the life I so treasure right now.
And that's what I need to keep in mind on days when Stella won't stop fussing from the pain of teething, when the kids at my school are loud and unruly, when Dave and I argue over who should do the dishes, when I feel stress creep on me because Kentucky has not yet presented a job for me. This life may not be perfect, but it's all I hoped for, and I wouldn't trade it for anything.