It will not surprise you that I love reading book reviews, perhaps as much as I love reading books themselves. Every Sunday, I work my way through the New York Times’ Review of Books, taking note of books I’d like to read as well as those I firmly will avoid. I’d already noted Emma Straub’s latest, This Time Tomorrow, thanks to Lisa’s DIK review. The NYT’s review, also rather glowing, begins with a question I am fascinated by: If you could travel back to 1996 for 24 hours, how would you spend that time? To be more accurate, I think often about this question: If I could relive one day of my life, which would it be?
It’s an impossible query, of course. It’s like asking if you could only take one book to a desert island, what would it be? There are too many answers and one’s choice depends on one’s current mood and context. Still, it’s intriguing to consider.
I’m leery of days I’d pick to change the world. I love time travel fiction and the moral of many of those stories–perhaps most brilliantly evinced by Stephen King’s 11/22/1963 –is that to mess with history is to, in ways one can’t predict, change history. It’s too risky and I don’t want to be the person that inadvertently killed Lincoln’s mom. So, I’m not going back to ensure that the phaeton that hit Stalin when he was 12 caused his death rather than just injuring his left arm or making sure Gavrilo Princip‘s parents never met.
I don’t wish to relive any of days of my own life. One revised memory might change everything again in ways I can’t comprehend. So, unlike the lead of Straub’s book, I won’t be heading back to see my 35 year old self–that’s my 1996–a time in which I’d either be pregnant with twins or the overwhelmed mother of four under five. That said, if forced to relive a day of my life, I’d relive yesterday. It would cause the least possible harm and I’d have had coffee beans on hand this morning rather than an empty can.
I’d pick a day I’m interested to experience and promise myself to leave only footprints. If I could have been invisible–there are SO many aspects of time travel–I’d love to have been in the room where it happens, to quote Mr. Miranda. Seeing As You Like It performed in the Globe Theater in 1599 would be fascinating–though it would be hard to not seek out William and ask him what the secret to his greatest truly was. My husband would travel to know the answers to questions we ponder. Who really killed Kennedy? Was there a Camelot? Whatever happened to Amelia Earhart?
How about you? What day in time would you relive? Why? What are your thoughts on time travel? And if you’re looking for time-travel stories, we, of course have a tag. #time travel romance