It’s not true what they say - that you can’t go back in time – because I did. Yesterday, my daughter and I traveled back in time, traveled one year back, to be exact.
In our small town, there is a skating rink with which we are all familiar. Every Wednesday, from 9:00 a.m. until 10:30 a.m., they have what is known as the “baby skate.” Preschoolers, mostly from daycares, converge upon the rink and have the whole place to themselves. Before my youngest child entered school, it became a weekly ritual for us to skate (both of us wobbly), then buy a small toy from the gift shop, and finally end up at a fast food restaurant for lunch.
Now she’s in kindergarten. The baby days are gone, but the memories are not.
The other day, she and I were flipping through a journal that I keep and we reminisced about the “baby skate” and the old “just the Mama and the baby” days. It became more than we could stand. A plan began to formulate between the two of us and the next day, which just happened to be a Wednesday, we put the plan into action. I called the school and said she was ill; I didn’t feel guilty at all. We arrived at the rink at precisely 9:00 a.m.
A daycare van, full of excited preschoolers dangling their skates and giggling, pulled up and the passengers disembarked. We followed them in, but not without some trepidation on my part.
“Now, remember,” I told my daughter, “they might not let us in. I mean, you’re in school now.” She looked the other children up and down, calculating, measuring; I suspect that she was considering the odds.
“Nah,” she said. Following them, she fit right in. I suspected a challenge from the gatekeeper but I felt like I was looking into the face of an angel when she smiled a BIG smile and said, “We’ve missed you! It’s been a long time! Come right in.” She hit a button and the door to the past buzzed and swung open. I looked inside. My daughter took my hand. We went in.
The lights were revolving and pulsating, the music swelling to a crescendo, and the two of us took our place in the skating rink. Babies flew past us on roller blades and did loop-the-loops on Fisher Price blue and orange skates. It was, as always, no place for the faint hearted, but this time it was a little different. We weren’t wobbly anymore. I noticed that, although she was short, she looked leggier than her cohorts. After a while, she let go of my hand. She passed me several times, in fact. When it came time to do the “hokey pokey” and the “limbo,” she wanted to just watch. I asked our friend, the keeper of time, to please play, “Achey Breaky Heart” a song that my daughter and I had skated to so often. She said she would be happy to, if she could find it. Oh my.
An announcement came on, informing us that this was the last baby skate of the season, that it would resume again in the fall. I looked at the clock. It was 10:10. Surely she would be too big in the fall for us to try this again. After 10:30 a.m. today, we could never go back in time again.
I wanted to skate in the revolving lights with her forever. I longed to go back to a simpler time when I didn’t have a part-time job, I wasn’t going to college, and she and I had all the time in the world. When I didn’t have to share her with school and a teacher whom I barely knew, and all her friends. When I was all the world to her and I had all the world to myself. I knew that she was the last. Two other children, but this one was the youngest and she wasn’t a baby anymore. And there weren’t going to be any more.
Twenty minutes. I noticed that I didn’t have to reach down so far for her hand. The “toy” that she picked out from the skating rink’s gift shop was a necklace. Not a toy. When she turned to me with delight as “Achey Breaky Heart” came on, and our deejay friend waved to us and smiled, my daughter saw that I was crying.
“Why, Mommy?” she asked in amazement.
“Because in ten minutes” (ten now), “we can never go back in time again.” I explained why. She and I stood somberly under the revolving lights and watched the clock’s hands move. We saw the portal close. It was almost more than we could bear. Then I had a thought.
“Chelsea,” I said, “we can go to the mall.” Her face brightened up immediately, all tears forgotten. I knew I had hit the right key, for both of us.
“They can be the new ‘Mama and the youngest daughter’ days,” I told her. So we did, and they are.
But oh, that delicious feeling of going back, if just for an hour and a half. And the angel who let us in.
“We’ve missed you. You’ve been gone for so long.”
What we missed, we found, and so were able to move on. And they say that time travel isn’t possible.