recently, i read (and watched, and bawled my eyes out at) me before you, in which will traynor, who had previously led an exciting and adventurous life, is now wheelchair-bound after an accident. i'm sure you've at least seen the trailer (which is, in itself, enough to at least tug a few heartstrings if not elicit actual tears).
anyway, at one point, his caretaker is trying to get him active again and starts by suggesting a trip to a place he's previously been and would love to visit again. he turns down the idea with a flat 'no,' explaining that "the day we go and i'm in this bloody contraption, all those memories, those sensations will be wiped out, erased."
when i first read that line, i nodded my head in agreement, having never thought to put words around the idea that it is impossible to recreate a memory, and trying only leads to tarnishing the original memory. anything you try to duplicate will always fall short.
i'm on tour again, with the same band, families, and nannies as last time. but the similarities between this time and last time basically end there.
i thought about all of this as i sat on the bus that first morning, just me and a sleeping baby in the back lounge, and i ran through a list of reasons why this time is not like last time.
this time, i'm only with them for eight days. this time, i packed shorts and it was still light outside when we loaded the bus with kids, who were sweaty and sticky from our walk to get popsicles down the street. this time, the baby isn't a baby anymore, but almost one and almost walking.
the differences trickle down to even the smallest details––like how they used a different bus company this time, which means the driver is different and the bus setup is different. i sleep in a different (and smaller) bunk this time as well.
within a few minutes, i started to feel it wearing me down. while all these things i thought of are true, it is also true that this time is not last time. and, it turned out, making a mental list of the differences didn't change anything, it was only limiting the experience i was having this time.
i thought about the night i'd had, sleeping in a bunk on a moving bus, waking up with each bump and every time one of the kids cried or talked or had to go to the bathroom. i remember laying there, with a goofy grin on my face, not even caring about the sleep i was missing.
touring is not glamorous. touring as a nanny is even less glamorous. but i love it, and i couldn't be more thankful to have the opportunity to experience it. that's why i said yes to these eight days. not because i thought it would bring me back to last time (because i knew it wouldn't), but because i wanted to have a this time.
the thing about will traynor is that, as much as i love him, i am also tremendously disappointed in the way he stubbornly chooses to not recognize the truth that although he cannot go back to what he once had, he is not left with nothing. just because you can't go back doesn't mean you can't move forward.
granted, there is a lot to unpack when it comes to the situation depicted in the book, but i'm not here to comment on that. i just think sometimes we need to be reminded that you still have something. you have this time. and you can choose to move forward with it, or you can choose to be disappointed that it isn't what it once was.
i needed to be reminded, that morning, that this time, this experience, stands on its own, separate from and in addition to past experiences. and it is really my choice what i walk away from it with.