the Latrine

If You Could Change the Past

by Joseph Avery-North

If you could change the past would you? I’m not talking about traveling back in time and altering world history like preventing WWII or yelling “duck!” in Dallas back in November ’63. I’m talking about changing nothing more than a moment or two in your own life, taking a different door, not burning a particular bridge, that kind of thing. We’ve all heard (and most of us have said) the old expression “I wouldn’t change a thing because everything that has happened has made me who I am”. I’ve said it before myself and… for the most part, yes, I like who I am but, at the same time…

I guess what got me thinking about all of this is that I spoke to someone the other day for the first time in 5 years. Someone I thought I’d never speak with again, that I thought had gone from my life and no longer had any power or sway over me. Well, here’s another old expression; “ya know what thought did don’t ya”. I was wrong. That someone is a woman from my past. It was strange to find that various emotions could still be evoked. Strange to find that that person still had the power to move me to laughter or tears and it simply got me thinking.

Well, what would I change? Would I avoid meeting her altogether? Would I have been the one to walk away instead? Would I have found a way to keep us together? Beats the hell out of me, especially considering there were circumstances beyond my ability to control. But that doesn’t stop me from asking myself a lot of "what ifs" and saying a lot of "if onlys". Everyone does. The real killer is that I know that in her way (and we all love in our own way, we can never love someone the way they "want" us to, only, simply, in the way we do) she felt as deeply as I did. And that made it so much more painful. The star crossed lover syndrome works wonderfully in books and old movies but it isn’t any fun to live through.

Speaking of star crossed and stars, I think there’s something strange going on here. You see, I met this woman back in 1995. A tall, slender Dutch Gemini born at the end of May. In this year, 2005 (for those who don’t know or took my advice last year when I advocated abolishing the Gregorian calendar) I met another tall, slender Dutch Gemini, also born in late May. According to a friend of mine who is well versed in astrology (and her insights are enough to make the sceptic in me give it some credence) I have Gemini rising in some house or other or something like that. These two women have had an impact on me, they have left their mark (they have shown me that Dutch women who are Gemini are not to be trusted, that they will always look out for themselves). They also both have 3 syllable names that start with "J".

It's uncanny. It's spooky. Maybe this Gemini rising stuff explains why. I only know that I will spend my life occassionally looking back and wondering why, wondering what the hell I was thinking. I wonder if it’s a 10 year cycle. Maybe this Gemini rising stuff means that every 10 years some Dutch woman who just happens to be born in late May will waltz into my life, engage my empathy, my sympathy and trust and make me suffer for something I haven't even done .

In the end, it doesn’t matter what I’d change simply because I can’t change a thing. Although I would love a time machine. I’d like to skip forward, just to see if this life thing all works out ok. That would make that waiting and wondering easier. If it doesn’t “all work out” then at least I’d have an idea of what to change in the present.

So, what would you change if you could?

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