Does the path of love ever run smoothly? Ah, it varies, doesn’t it? Imagine if you and your partner were to be cast back in time, in to your teenage bodies. How would your relationship survive? Or, would it survive at all? There are so many administrative details to wrap your head around here.
A fourteen year old boy, who is actually a thirty-seven year old man, who has spent the better part of a decade living with a woman who is now in her forties, but is in the body of an eighteen year old girl: we both live with our parents, and I go to school. The sticking point is that I am also a rather opinionated father of my own children, and I do not take well to people telling me what I can’t do.
I am an independent man, used to setting my own agenda, both in my life and in my work. But I am also very much used to being in a partnership: We are a team, and we very much work together to keep this life of ours afloat. It is our life after all. Subsuming our agency to the will of our parents is never going to work: we’ve spent years taking control of our own existences, and relegating our parents to their deserved roles of retired grandparents. We take them on holidays now.
And isn’t that a source of conflict. We have spent weeks on this now. From an internal perspective it makes perfect sense to us: we have a beautiful home, complete with a mortgage and a scheme of decor which we both devised; we are parents of one child, with another one on the way, and we run the home of our child without the assistance of anyone; we have professional jobs where we call the shots: we have professional qualifications and we have worked hard to be experts in our fields.
From an external perspective we are children, or as near as makes no odds: We have no professional acumen; we have no understanding of how the grown up world works; we effectively have no rights. If we have no children with which to prove it, how can our parents be grandparents? If they still hold down jobs, where they are experts in their own fields, how on earth can they be retired? Bad times.
Something I now wish I had paid more attention to in my teenage years is sporting results, on a very granular level. (Why is it that it is always assumed that time travellers have access to such detailed facts?) With it we could simultaneously establish our provenance and make everybody rich.
Instead, our plan was to use our knowledge of the future in general to create a future for ourselves where we were ahead of the curve. We knew that the internet was the place to be from here on in.
“What about our children? Where are they? They need to be our primary focus, not getting better jobs than we had before. Do you think they’re lost? Have you given up on the lives of our children?”
We had seen the explosion of technology and its impact on the lives of every citizen of this planet. We had become addicted to our smartphones, and understood that they were a necessary step.
“I don’t care about the progression of technology and our ability to benefit from that. I need to get back to my life, and to get back to my children. I am pregnant there, and I hate it here. Get us home.”
There was no reason to repeat the lessons or the mistakes of the past: we still had those skills. Our priority needed to be filling the gaps in our core skills to make the most of our time advantages.
“Our priority is skills? Have you lost your mind? My priority is protecting my daughters and escaping this teenage body. Have you ever been a teenage girl? It is a nightmare beyond your understanding.”
There is something to be said for having spent years in the company of your family members. I knew my mother-in-law well enough to be able to have engaging conversations with her immediately. She knew my mother well enough to win her over in an instant – just as she did the first time they met. It greased the wheels of our interactions, and allowed us to at least see each other on a daily basis. They were both captivated by stories of their granddaughter, and by our drawings of her life.
Our fathers, for the most part, mostly kept up with their own things. It’s not that they wished it would all go away, but they were very happy that our mothers were taking the lead. Our dads are both of a similar age, and take a more conservative view: they had wages to earn, and that was that.
It was fun to spot the differences between the people we were talking to and the people that we knew back in our own time. Both of our mothers were far less relaxed, having responsibility for juggling their whole careers, working lives, and their partners. Their relaxation seemed inversely proportional to ours: as our responsibilities ebbed away we became so much more chilled.
This relaxation was not, however, universal. Arguments could flare up at any time: Arguments over what we should do with our lives; arguments over whether it would ever be possible to get back to our own time; arguments over whether we could ever spend the night together ever again.
We both woke up on the same day, at the same time, out of our own time. The internet was not open to us, so we couldn’t find out whether we were isolated cases or not. That would have been the starting point to our research for how to get home. Beyond that, I had nothing. Her drive and determination to get home was my main reason for continuing to try: left to my own devices I would have just focussed on building a future, confident that we would meet our children the long way round. As much as I missed them, I knew that we still had it within us to create them again.
Whatever came to pass, I was stuck at school, with my partner essentially stuck waiting for me to catch up. Hardly the egalitarian life we’d built for ourselves. Our friends and family thought we were mad, that we were ruining each other’s lives, but we could remember, and that’s what mattered.