I'm enjoying the Audible version of Kresley Cole's entertaining book, No Rest for the Wicked. It's an early entry in the Immortals After Dark series, which is one of my all-time faves. In this installment of the saga, Kaderin the Cold is competing in the Talisman Hie, a contest among immortal creatures, sponsored by a bored deity who enjoys watching what amounts to a paranormal scavenger hunt. Different strokes for different paranormal folks, I guess. The grand prize is compelling, which is why so many choose to compete. In this contest, the prize is Thrane's Key, purported to unlock the door to time travel. Kaderin is desperate to win this prize so that she can save her sisters from death on the battlefield. She longs to go back a thousand years to the moment she let her compassion for a wounded vampire stay her hand from killing him. In sparing his life, she doomed her sisters, whom the vampire killed as soon as Kaderin let him go. I've given this contrivance a lot of thought lately as it presents an interesting set of questions. First, would we want to travel back in time for any reason at all? And secondly, are there moments we can identify that would change the trajectory of our lives so profoundly that the future would be demonstrably different? As I thought about it, a few moments came to mind.
Wednesday was the anniversary of my father's death. I miss him terribly, even after more than 25 years. He was a remarkable man, and he never got to meet my husband or my kids. He never got to know me as an adult (even though I was technically of age when he died—I was a later bloomer). Moreover, my family of origin fell apart after he died; everything was sadly different.
So, would I use Thrane's key to bring my Daddy back? Absolutely. For sure. It’s a no brainer. Or so I thought… at first.
But then I thought about it some more. My father was old fashioned. He felt strongly that his only daughter should marry immediately upon college graduation. She had other ideas. But I am fairly certain my dad would have pressured my then-boyfriend (to whom I became engaged years later), to propose, and I would have had a disastrous first marriage (instead, I broke off the engagement and spared myself an unpleasant divorce). And, my dad was ailing, Would I have wanted to prolong his existence on this plane any longer than necessary? He suffered so, and it feels like the ultimate selfishness to contemplate making him stay for me, when his poor body was so worn out.
So, in the end, I'm not at all sure that I would use Thrane's key to bring back my father.
But what about using it to go back in time and have a do-over of my pregnancy, which was an unmitigated nightmare—mostly because I did not know then what I know now about nutrition and how it affects pretty much everything. Or, I could go back to the early days of my children's lives and re-do mistakes I made—with their foods, medicines, how we played, etc., etc., etc. I could go back in time and finish my dissertation, or my theology degree (I was so close to getting that darn degree and then I had a huge fight with the Dean and quit in a huff—maybe I could undo the huff?).
I could go back and rescue myself from the poodle perm I sported at my high school prom—that paired so beautifully with my Laura Ashley dress (of which there was far too much photographic evidence— hopefully all of which I’ve burned) looked like Scarlett O'Hara's window curtains. Or, I could turn back time and decide to study history instead of political science, or change the course of events that led me to run for my life after my cover was blown while working as a private investigator in Israel. So many times where I could have made much better choices.
But if I did any of that, would I still be me? Ah, there's the rub. If I'd married my first fiancé, even if we'd gotten divorced, would I still have met and married my beloved husband? And if I hadn't married him, we wouldn't have the kids that we do, and wouldn't have the life that I have. So, any way you slice it, I wouldn't be me, and I wouldn't be living a life that I love. And then where would I be? No flipping clue, that's where. I suppose my life might be better than it is now, but honestly, I can't imagine it. Nor do I really want to. Every single experience I've had--the good, the bad and the ugly (I told you about my prom look, right? I left out the white patent leather sky-high platform pumps with the ankle chain and metal lifts—with the Scarlett O'Hara dress and the electrocuted hair)— has contributed to who I am today. And while I am as far from perfect as Rhett Butler is from Ashley Wilkes, I can finally say, at the tender age of 50, that I like myself and I love my life (this is where I break my arm patting myself on the back). So when it comes right down to it, I don't think I'd want Thrane's Key at all. In fact, if I found it, I'd probably be tempted to throw it back to wherever it came from—hoping not to offend the goddess who sponsored the scavenger hunt, of course, cause that would be bad—and then I'd need the key to undo the damage I'd caused. But generally speaking, I'm good, thanks. No turning back time for me. I'll take my past, warts and all, not to mention heartbreak, humiliation and imperfection. It's all good.