When it gets tough,

tough like my back is aching exceptionally hard I’m guessing this is how people develop a hunchback, pain is shooting from my wrist up to my collar bone from tiring my hands out all day, I still hold my boy because his needs are simple and determined.

In those moments I ask my future self to trade places with my exhausted, present self. She gets to hold him again — he’s never going to be this small, and becomes her younger self for a minute. I get to take a nap in the best version of my future.

This, I told to my neighbor.

I wasn’t planning on walking past Allenwood. I was actually walking extra slowly with my boy in a baby wrap when she caught up to me, and I found myself catching up with her. She’s fit, I think, every time I see her. Very lean body. Great posture. I hope I’ll look like her when I’m her age. I asked if her kids came to visit for the holidays. They did. One of her daughters was graduating from college and already got a job so she wasn’t going to come back home for a while. The other, off to grad school. Plus her son was a senior in high school. The house was going to be empty soon.

20 years, I’ve been a mother. I’m not going to know what to do with myself.

That’s when I told her about my little quantum travel trick. That I trade places with a version of myself who’s at her stage of life, free from kids. She looked at me politely but quizzically. Perhaps she thought “how esoteric,” something Eileen, my neighbor across the street, equally fit, said to me once. Perhaps she got offended that I was trying to put a positive spin on her situation when she didn’t think there was anything negative about it. I hope not. Perhaps she didn’t peg me as a philosopher, so she was processing. Or she thought I was being silly. I got self-conscious about this and barely listened to what she was telling me next. I do this a lot.

We stopped in front of her house, she began to pull the garbage bins in. I had walked further than I had planned to. I thanked her for it. I didn’t push myself to walk a few more feet up to Mulholland. I did that the next day when I had the energy and was fully present inside my body.

Artist. Environmentalist. Immigrant. Mother. Investigating the links between environmental health and mental health.

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