Starting your day usually becomes pretty routine. If your like me you wake up an hour before your alarm is set to go off. You roll over look at the clock, sigh and fall back asleep. You then wake up half an hour before the alarm is set to go off. You stare at the clock then close your eyes and go back to sleep. Then, 10 minutes before your alarm is set to scream in your ear, you wake up and look again at the infernal machine and wonder, not for the first time, what sort of sadistic person would create such a horrible thing. So before the demonic creation can scream out in what you are sure is agony in some other universe, you turn it off and sit up.
Thus the routine begins. You get up out of bed with a groan. You keep it quiet so you don’t wake up whomever you happen to be sleeping with. If you are my age, it is most likely your spouse or no one. If you are 20 years younger, it could be just about anyone. Either way, quietly or aloud, you groan and shuffle your way to the bathroom.
You look in the mirror and wonder who this old man is that is staring back at you. It wasn’t that long ago a handsome young stud always looked at you and winked. Sure that he would always be there. That reflection is gone. In its place is some old dude that vaguely reminds you of your father. You splash cold water on your face and then take a handful into your mouth to rinse out the dry sleep crap that grows there each night.
You sit down on the only throne you will ever know and pee. It seems to go on forever and wonder if your bladder can explode if you wait to long to use the bathroom. Probably not. Most likely you would just wet your pants and rue the day you got old. The day that handsome dude in the mirror up and left, and left you with the twilight zone version of your dad. Even though all you do is pee, you still sit down. Past experience has taught you that trying to stand and pee before you fully wake up, is never a good idea.
You then stand at the sink and proceed to brush your teeth and after debating whether or not to floss, you decide you can do it later, or tomorrow or never. While brushing you decide what you want to wear and mentally plan out the rest of your day.
Like I said, it is usually pretty routine. Until you wake up and it’s not.
I woke up this morning and expected to roll over and see that it was 4am, and that I had another hour to sleep. Instead, I roll over and instead of my alarm clock, I am facing a brick wall. My mind races. My bed is in the middle of the room so neither side should be up against the wall. I put my hand out and feel the cold stone. I turn over to see if my darling wife of 20+ years was playing some kind of prank and realize that I am alone. My bed is no longer a spacious queen but a tiny single.
I know I must still be dreaming so I close my eyes and know that when I open them again I will be home in my own bed. I squeeze them until they hurt and then open them to be confronted with the same narrow room and the same narrow, empty bed.
I sit up and feel something completely strange. I actually feel good. My aches and pains that have been steadily growing for the last 15 years are gone. I actually feel great. I hop out of bed and look down at my body. What happened to my stomach. My stomach flat. My stomach hasn’t been flat since I graduated from college. I look around the room and see that it is totally familiar. I know I have been here before. The Iron Maiden poster at the foot of the bed is the same one I had in High school. The one with Eddie (the bands mascot) manipulating a puppet that is Satan. I know that if I open my closet door there will be a full length mirror on the inside of the door.
I go to the closet door and tentatively open it. Inside there is the mirror. Not a mirror, THE mirror. The same crack along the bottom where it fell out of my hands when I was trying to install it. The same picture of Bianca Castle….. Bianca Castle, my 9th grade crush. I had swiped her school picture from one of her friends. So what if it said “Mari, my BFF 4Ever”, on the back. I was to afraid to ask for one and l, yes, I know that she didn’t even know my name. She was my first head over heels crush. And she never knew I existed.
I looked away from Bianca and at my own reflection. The young stud was back! No longer was I looking at some old man. I was looking at myself as a teenager. I stepped back, the back of my knees hit the bed and I fell over backwards, on to, then off the side of the bed.
So what was I going to do? I lay there on the floor of my old bedroom, in my old body and thried to fight the idea that I was going crazy. Was I still a married adult and in my own bed dreaming? I couldn’tbe. This felt so real. So was I still a teenager who had a really detailed dream about 33 years of my life going by? The problem with that idea was that my brain was still my adult brain. I knew everything that I should as a normal adult. So why was I in a kids body? What should I do? I wasn’tsure so I just went back to bed.
I woke up to my alarm. 5 am, time to get up for work. That was a wild dream. Weird though I always wake up before my alarm. I turn over to see If I woke up my wife. She was still asleep. Good. I turned off my alarm and went into the bathroom. I splashed water on my old man face. I sat down to use the bathroom, then stood to brush my teeth. Thank God for routines, I thought.
The day progressed as it always does. SSDD. Same Stuff Different Day. The only difference was I kept thinking about Bianca Castle. I hadn’t thought of her in years. Decades even. I dreamt about her and now I can’t stop thinking about her.
As with most days, it dragged by and by the time I got home, dinner was on the counter with a note to warm it up. The wife and kids had gone to the church for play practice and wouldn’tbe home till after 9pm. That was fine. All I wanted to do was eat and jump back into bed. So that’s exactly what I did.
I woke up the next morning and was not totally surprised to find myself looking at a familiar brick wall. I knew I was dreaming. I had to be. What do they call this, Lucid Dreaming? Dreaming when you know it’sa dream but keep dreaming anyways. So here I was, dreaming about being a teen once more.
I sat up in bed and tried to think about what I should do. It was my dream. I could do anything I wanted. So I went to the closet. Stared at Bianca and got dressed. I walked out of the room and a flood of memories hit me. I saw the same worn carpet in the same worn hallway that I walked down every day for the first 18 years of my life. I went down the hall and into the bathroom. It is a weird sensation having to pee in your dreams, so I figured why not. I was here so why not use the bathroom. I went in and was about to sit when I thought why not and turned around to stand and pee. It was liberating. Until I realized I missed and peed on the wall next to the toilet.
After cleaning up my mess, I proceeded to go downstairs. MM little brother and sister were sitting at the kitchen table eating cereal. My heart caught in my throat. My brother Bobby was killed in a car accident after his senior prom. I haven’t seen him in 25 years. There he was eating chex cereal and reading the daily comics out of the Binghamton Press. My little brother alive and well. I started to cry. Cindy asked me if I was ok. I looked at her and remembered how much I really loved her and how I missed her. After Bobby’s death she dropped out of college and moved to Colorado. She got married and had a couple of kids but we were never close again. She is in AA now and stopped drinking 3 years ago. She called me on my birthday and we had a pleasant chat. Then she hung up and we both went on with our lives
Now here they were. Sitting in front of me. Looking at me like I had lost my mind. I stood there like a lion with tears falling down my cheeks. My mother can into the room, young and beautiful as ever. She now has Alzheimer’s and is slowly wasting away at Riverside Manor. She is well cared for. Dad’s insurance saw to that. It was the best thing he left us when he passed away at 72. A nice insurance policy to make sure mom was cared for, for the rest of her life.
Mom, the young and beautiful mom, pulled me to her and asked me what was wrong. I said nothing and just held her. She laughed and asked if I was stoned. We had a great relationship like that always joking around. I said no and went in turn and hugged Bobby and Cindy. They were sure I had lost my marbles. Mom asked me if I wanted some french toast, and I said yes.
While we were eating, Cindy asked if I had asked anyone to the harvest dance yet? Bobby giggled and said “ like Bianca”? I just sat there dumbfounded. Today was the day I was going to screw up my nerve and ask Bianca to the dance. I know how that ended. I walked up to her, tapped her on the shoulder, and when she turned around, I promptly puked on her shoes. Undeniably the worst day of my life.
After I puked on her she screamed and ran away. She never spoke to me again and I never tried to speak to her again either. We both went on with our lives and I actually forgot about her soon enough. I graduated high school and went on to college, where I met my beautiful and wonderful wife. I can’t even say I wondered what it would be like if I never puked on Bianca’s shoes. I truly forgot about her and moved on. My life has been good. So why am I here in my mother’s kitchen, talking about asking Bianca on a date?
The problem is, now I was thinking about it. I was thinking how much would be different if I didn’t puke. What if we did go to the dance together, what if we did become boyfriend and girlfriend? How different would my life be?
I stood up from the table, kissed my mom goodbye, and gave my brother a nougie. If I was here long enough, I may even stop Bobby from getting in that car with his buddies after the prom his senior year. Sure I would be back in college but Oneonta is not that far away. I could come back and stop him. But first I have to get that date with Bianca.
I shot out the door and ran the 2 miles to the High school. (I love my young body ) Once at the school I found Bianca and asked her to the dance. I didn’t upchuck on her shoes an this time, and she just giggled and said yes. I was about to introduce myself when she said ,” I was wondering if you were going to ever ask me.” She then winked and walked off with her friends. I was on cloud nine. The rest of the day was a blur. I aced a couple of tests. Astounded my buddies with my superior knowledge of the future. They all laughed and thought I was kidding with them. But they would see soon enough.
I went home and ate dinner with my family for the first time in 20 some years. I loved every minute of it. I was exhausted though. I didn’t want to go to bed but when I fell asleep during Alf, my mom showed me up to bed. I crawled under the covers a happy boy/man. Before I knew it, I was asleep.
I awoke abruptly and saw that my clock said 4am. I was back in the present. I reached down and felt my belly just to be sure. Round as ever. I would have to fix that. I sat up curious and nervous. Was that still my wife next to me? Or could it be Bianca? I laughed it off, thinking it was a vivid dream and thinking I should go visit mom at the nursing home. I went to the bathroom. Same old routine, thank you very much. After brushing my teeth I went back to the bedroom to find my wife up and already downstairs.
I got dressed and went down for my normal bagel and coffee when a strange smell abruptly caught my attention. Was that bacon? I couldn’t remember the last time my wife got up before me and made me breakfast. I couldn’t help thinking that maybe it was Bianca, but I shrugged away that silly thought and continued downstairs to the kitchen.
Standing there in her robe was not my wife. It was not Bianca either. This strange but slightly familiar woman turned around to me and said I looked stupid with my mouth hanging wide open like that. Then she laughed and proceeded to put the plate down in front of me, close my jaw for me and kiss me on the lips.
I managed to blurt out. But when she looked at me and asked what was wrong, I realized who it was.
“Well duh!” she said. “That’s my name, don’t wear it out”.