Hey, You Want a Time Machine – A Chance to Return to High School, Yes or No

“If you could, would you go back to high school?”

Whether you have children or not, adults are sometimes asked this question around high school graduation season. As social media feeds are stuffed with photos of newly minted graduates, some of you become nostalgic about your own high school experiences.

A time when Hypercolor shirts, Fat Emma & Pie Face Chocolate bars, leggings, bell bottoms, paisley shirts, poodle skirts, mullets, O’Ryan’s Sour Cream and Onion chips, spiral perms, two-centimetres of makeup, and Moon Boots defined your generation. When you were as cool as Doritos Cool Ranch Chips and hot as Hot Tamales.

Let’s be real. You’re still cool and hot, just older with more knowledge – and debt and a Netflix account.

But would you go back to high school?

First, a moment of realism. It’s impossible.

No one is stepping out of the shadows in a beige trench coat, leaning over your shoulder, saying “Psst, psst, want to buy a time machine? I’m selling them for 30 per cent off. Or buy two get one free. Today only,” as they pull out a sketchy looking Interac machine.

You shrug, and the machine spits out a receipt.

For kicks, let’s say this scenario isn’t fiction. You step inside the time machine, and you rewind time. You can return to high school. School dances. Sock hops. Skipping class. Passing notes. Social studies. Physics. Chemistry. Acid Wash denim. This already sounds like a bad idea.

However, the idyllic side. Spending time with our close friends. Seeing people who aren’t with us anymore. Complaining about so-called problems. But this is a rerun of what happened. A same old visit to the past.

If you’re buying a time machine, you’d better get your money’s worth. Because what’s the point of visiting the past unless you can change the narrative. The events. The timeline. The yearbook photos. You want control of the past. You want to pass pre-calculus. You want that trophy in the mile.

If you plan on controlling the past, you’d better bring your present knowledge. Then you’re ready. You’re prepared. And you’re totally not wearing neon. You’d know which classes to take – and which to avoid like headcheese. This time, you’re studying harder. Trying out for the football team. Snapping more photos with your friends. Erasing mistakes. Staying out later. Having more fun.

And your high school experience won’t be interrupted by events out of your control. Illness. Tumours. Car accidents. Those are erased from the chalkboard/dry erase board.

You have the ability to have the perfect high school experience. Choose a different path. Pick the right courses. Dump that guy before he dumps you! You are a champion, coasting through life!

But are you?

No. You’re simply controlling the past which impacts the future – and you’ve lost sight of the present. Stuck in a time machine that doesn’t exist, except in your mind.

Maybe there are aspects of high school you want to experience again. Others, you may want to toss into a burning barrel with lighter fluid – and fry, baby, fry. Maybe you wanted to fix a couple of mistakes. Or you want to go back as a social experiment. Absorb more moments. Pay better attention in math.

If you were to change one aspect of your life, you would change everything. You would be avoiding people, places, and parties. True, maybe it’s best to avoid toxic relationships and an “F” on your transcript or being stopped by the police. But those experiences shape you. They wake you up. Hopefully, they make you realize you’re on the wrong path.

“If you could, would you go back to high school?”

The answer is irrelevant.

There’s nothing wrong with nostalgia in healthy doses. Reflecting on the past. Looking through scrapbooks and yearbooks. Swapping stories with high school friends.

Because that’s your time machine.

And you don’t need a receipt.