Two weeks ago, on my twenty-fifth birthday, I went back in time and visited myself on my twentieth birthday. I’ve been visiting myself on my birthday in five year intervals since I turned five. That’s when this whole thing started. Fifth birthday. The meetings of self, I call’em. But as experience has taught me, there is an enormous difference between meeting and knowing. I always thought I knew myself. But now. Now I don’t know. I don’t think I know myself at all.
This won’t make sense unless I go all the way back to the beginning. Even then, it still might not make sense. I’ll try my best.
My anticipation of my fifth birthday remains quite vivid. My parents threw me a party at McDonald’s, which I was quiet excited about. Obviously. What kid wouldn’t be? My mother had scheduled the party two weeks before my birthday, and I’m sure she instantly regretted telling me about it early. I bugged the shit out of her about it. How much longer? How many days? Will Ronald be there? The Grimace?
I woke up really early on my birthday in anticipation. Before the sun came up, I think. I know it was dark. Or maybe it’s my memory that’s dark. Doesn’t matter. As I lay in bed, staring at my ceiling and thinking about McNuggets, I casually walked through my door.
Not I, but me. It was another me. There were two of me in my room. I lay on the bed, and another me stood in the doorway.
I didn’t know it was me at first because the other me looked kinda older. When I realized I was looking at another me, I nearly shit myself.
I remember the first thing the older me said:
“Happy birthday to me…and to you!” He laughed at his own joke. I laughed, too, but I didn’t know why. I didn’t want to offend the other me by not laughing. Then he told me he had just turned ten as well, and his joke made sense.
My other memories of that meeting are hazy. I felt so enamored with the idea of speaking to myself that we really only discussed trivialities. I think he told me about a bully that I would have to deal with and that my best friend would move off in several years, but that’s about it. At ten years old, I hadn’t really learned anything worth passing on to a five year old version myself.
Although we didn’t talk about anything important on my fifth birthday, the meeting did establish a precedent. Not only would these five-year meetings of self become an integral aspect of my life, they would begin to define my life. My entire existence, really. I didn’t know that at the time. I’m just now beginning to understand and regret the depths in which those meetings defined me.