As an aspiring writer, I’ve come into some articles about writing prompts; one of which is to put yourself back in time and to have a conversation with your much younger self. It had me thinking just how such a dialogue might go.
Wandering aimlessly through the Nevada desert, I came upon an abandoned mining structure in the foothills and decided to explore a little. The forgotten town seemed to have had a robust population in its time, but now there was clearly no one left. Tumbleweeds had collected on the downwind side of the old main street and a few, rusted cars and pickup trucks littered the back alleyways.
I was about to leave when something odd caught my attention on the outskirts, past the end of the last structure. It was a rectangular opening to an old mine shaft, its rusty tracks and an old mining cart disappearing into the dry grasses. The opening was dark and foreboding, but something drew me to it and as I neared its entry, I was suddenly pulled in…
When I came to, I found myself in a strangely familiar place. Ten or so trailers lined up next to a tall, barbed wire fence. In front of one was parked a large Cadillac sedan when a cold shiver suddenly came over me… I was back in time 34 years ago to that dusty, west Texas town to the trailer park just outside of the main gate of Dyess Air Force Base!
Standing in the middle of the road, I looked around at the older cars and pickup trucks as the memories came flooding back and before I could regain my composure to make sense of this, I saw a young man exit the trailer walking to the fancy car.
Holy moly, that’s me 34 years ago as a young Airman in the Air Force!
The young man looked over, seemed deep in thought, and began to look for his keys when I approached. I felt a sensation that I had never quite felt before.
[Older Me-OM] “Hey there, do you have a minute?”
[Younger Me-YM] “Uh…, sure.” There was something oddly familiar about this guy. Looks a little like his dad maybe.
[OM] I just stared for a small eternity before I could put together something. The young guy sure looked preoccupied and a little down. “I’ve been looking for you for a while and I have something to say that’s going to sound just unbelievable.”
[YM] “Sure. What’s up?”
[OM] “I’m a 34 year older version of you…”
[YM] A smile broke out and then he began laughing uncontrollably. Catching himself and regaining his composure he says, “Sure you are.”
[OM] Relieved that he still had the young man’s attention, he continues, “Look, as insane as this sounds, I’m going to go over life from when you, I mean we were born, ok?”
[YM] Puzzled, his curiosity peaked. The old boy didn’t feel like a threat and so he says, “Sounds interesting. So what’s this really about? Did my dad send you?” Dad had some strange friends capable of a prank like this.
The old one motions for the two of them to walk down the dreary, dirt road. The young one’s head begins swirling, feeling a bit disoriented but oddly finds himself trusting the older one. Coming to the river, they find a large boulder on which to sit under the shade of an old willow tree and they continue to talk about the younger one’s entire life leading to this moment.
[OM] Turning to the younger, smiling, he says “Strange, isn’t it? Are you ok?” The younger one, a little shocked to see how all of the effort put into staying fit will eventually be for not, smiles to himself relieved that he is still young.
[YM] “Yeah, I guess. So when do I lose all of my hair?”
And in the mysteries of life, the conversation flows, both laughing at their strange circumstance and the older one pulls out a piece of paper and writes out a list:
- Invest in two companies; one called Dell Computer, the other Microsoft. When they go public. Keep buying stock for five years. Hold it for 25 years,
- Take care of your mother until her last day,
- Finish your education,
- Be your own best friend. Try not to take things so seriously. And, by far the most important point,
- On August 14, 1990, go to the Front Page restaurant in downtown Washington, D.C. and sit at one of the round tables outside, the one next to the main door. Wait for a pretty young lady to come. She has a certain look to her one quite different than the other young ladies in DC; something “old European” about her. You’ll quickly see. Figure out a way to make your introduction seem natural… but whatever you do, don’t let Caroline slip through your fingers. Ever.
The older one folded the note and placed in the younger’s shirt pocket and patted it and said… “Please, never lose sight of that piece of paper and follow it’s instructions to the letter, especially #5.”
Walking back in silence, the two had had a unlikely and unexplainably strange encounter. Turning to younger one once more, they simply shook hands and parted ways. The older turned back to look one last time… but a force pulled him quickly back.
Coming out of the old mine, the old boy squinted as the bright sun bore down upon him. Suddenly, his phone rang, looking down it read “Capri, Italy”; Caroline had pre-programmed her overseas number a couple of days back.
“Sweetheart, I found one overlooking the sea. They’re only asking $3,5 million US”, she said excitedly.
“Well, if you like it, go ahead and make an offer. I’ll call John and have him liquidate a few more shares of Dell.”
Reaching into his wallet, the old boy pulls out a piece of paper, now worn by 34 years, and smiles as he makes his way back to his dusty old pickup truck thinking… there’s still some gold left in that one.