Last week I overheard a snapshot of a conversation between two older ladies. They were walking through the gardens of the National Trust’s Tyntesfield estate, when one of them said to the other ‘If I ever time travel, I’d like to slide back into the body I had when I was in my early thirties.’
Something about the wording of her sentence caught my attention and stayed with me. Her optimism that time travel was something that she might experience, and the ease with which she imagined sliding into the body she had at thirty made me smile. Currently at the start of my own thirties, it also gave me a nudge to consciously appreciate the body I have now.
Already I can see that the body of my thirties is different to that of my twenties. In that time, it has worked eighty hour weeks and survived emotional turmoil. It has nurtured and delivered a baby, stretching and returning almost to its former self, but not quite. It has been dragged from its carefully carved routine and tolerated the carnage of life with a newborn. It has been hammered by sleep deprivation, year round coughs and colds, and far too much time spent watching Peppa Pig. At times I have tried to fill it up with wine.
And it’s not just my body that has changed. At one point I felt like I was existing in some sort of fog, my brain replaced by cotton wool, and my body so detached from me that it seemed I was simply surviving from one day to the next. The sharpness of my mind seemed to have vanished, and I found myself feeling more empathetic of those diagnosed with the onset of dementia. Losing my normal clear-headedness was infuriating, and things that would normally have been easy at work started to feel like complex tasks. A colleague reassured me that the fog would lift when I started sleeping better, and thankfully she was right. When my baby learned to sleep at eighteen months, I finally started to feel capable of achieving again.
In my twenties, my body seemed to be under my control. It was strong and seemed to do as it was told. Ten years later, I feel like I have lost some of the control I once had, but my body still does everything I want it to. I am free to walk as far as I want, as fast as I want, and can still run, swim and chase my children around the park. It still fits in my clothes, and doesn’t feel weak. I have learned to respect it and I appreciate how lucky I am to have this fully functioning body of mine.
I hope that when I’m in my seventies walking around National Trust gardens on warm autumn days, I will look back and remember that I appreciated the body of my thirties. If time travel is a possibility by then, maybe I’ll be trying to slide back into it.