Dr Who used to play every Saturday night in my house when I was growing up. I would usually be crouched behind the sofa, terrified by the mere mention of a Dalek while the rest of my family enjoyed the height of sophisticated 1970’s / 80’s TV.
The idea of time travel appealed though… a bit like that other 1980’s TV show Mr Ben – where you could enter a small squashed space and emerge into a different place and time. I would imagine myself in Jane Austin’s lounge while she scratched out her words with a quill and ink; or sit in Dickens’ study as he pondered Pip’s journey; or move forward to the shiny future where everyone seemed to wear cat suits (as they did in Buck Rogers and Star Trek). My childhood imagination was fired with possibility. Little did I know that time travel was a real thing.
How else can I explain the fact that every time I’m asked my age, my brain says 32 but then I am whooshed forward in an invisible Tardis to the point where I am forced to say 47?
How come I’ve only just come back from dropping my eldest daughter to play school, the screams of separation still ringing in my ears, yet somehow I entered the wardrobe and found myself last weekend taking her around to see her secondary school, her nonchalant too-cool-for-school mask now firmly in place?
How come Facebook popped up a memory picture into my feed of my beautiful mum surrounded by her grandchildren, yet today I bought a bunch of wild flowers from the farmer’s market for her birthday, even though she is no longer around to receive them?
How come I only feel I became a mother and am still trying to figure out the instructions in Greek, yet my second daughter hits double digits next week?
How come time travel is a thing, and no-one told me?
But as I delve deeper into the mid-life experience, and research lots of its aspect for my next book, I realise that time travel is a constantly evolving thing and it can go back as well as forward. (If only someone would tell my face). We can stand still and we can go back in time, we can relive loves and lives and moments by simply closing our eyes.
Facebook and Instagram might be maligned for being some intrusive, altruistic self-promoting spotlight, but it is also a wonderful opportunity to keep us connected to the present and the past. I keep track of people on Facebook that I would never ever get the chance to do without it, and with that am able to keep connected and time travel back to the me I was when I shared real time with them, be them my school pals, my travel friends or family members I rarely get to see.
But we can also keep living our younger selves, albeit it in an older body. I am in the place where I can time travel back to a space where I am single again, with all the terror and excitement that brings. I can go travelling again, learn to dance, and do many of the things I did at a different space in my life. It’s not time travel I realise. Time is not travelling. Only me. I am flexible but time is not.
So I step out of the Tardis of Life and realise I need to catch up with the time I’m in. I don’t want to time travel, I want to time absorb. According to the stats, I have reached mid-way. But here’s the rub. I’ve no idea if I am mid-aged. I might be. I might live to be 90. But I might live to be 115 so still be in my relative youth. I might not make it past 60 and am now in my dotage. I just don’t know if I’m at the early-years, mid-age or end-stage of my life.
I’m just at this stage of my life. Last night I went clubbing. Yes, you read that right. This is the woman who will only go to a pub if I can be guaranteed of a seat. But I ended up going to an amazing alternative dance venue (no drugs or drink) where I literally danced myself into a sweaty mess until the small hours. Despite the fact I had to down a quick G&T before I went in just to reassure myself that I would have alcohol pumping through my system while I danced, by midnight and 2 hours of solid dancing I knew I didn’t need it. I was high on life. The place was as seething mass of limbs belonging to people in their 20’s right up to their 60’s. It was like a festival without the mud. I danced in a way, and for longer than I have since I was into the London club scene in my early 20’s. Time hadn’t travelled. I have. And I can go anywhere/ anytime I want.