I’m not the first guy to wonder, “If I were to meet another version of myself, my kid self, what would I say to him?” Richard Bach explored the idea in his novel, One. A couple a' Joes battled it out in the movie, "Looper." Amy Pond in Dr. Who -- she’s got it going on.
I’d dreamed up my own version. In a bubble of overlapping timelines, I met my boy self on a winding road in rural Marion County, the summer before his 8th grade.
I was editing that story the other evening, bringing it down to size to meet the word-count for a submission. My gaze was intent on the conversation occurring at the close of the story: the boy and the man holding onto each other as the world around them vibrated and shuddered, timelines stretching and about to snap back to whatever “normal” is.
As the end is near, they speak of their connection, their oneness:
“Will I see you again?” the boy says.
“Yeah, Joe,” the man says. “We’ll meet around a fire and we’ll know each other. Until then, take time to be still. Sit. Listen. The silence is where we can hear each other.”
I took a break from editing and bounced over to Facebook to see what was brewing. There I found an entry by Chris, a grade-school friend, who'd just posted a photo with the comment:
“Found at my parents, for St. Lawrence alums, 8th grade report card and its envelope, signed by some of you.”
Having come directly from a conversation on the page with my 8th-grade self, I looked to my computer screen and saw there -- that boy’s signature in his very own hand.
My sense was that in writing this 12-year-old boy into life, wearing his faded Notre Dame jersey, we'd made a bridge between worlds, him and me.
And from 1975, he was reaching forward across time to tell me, his older self: “You were right. Look! I’m here!”