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Past Me Versus Future Me

While on vacation in NH, our family ride – 2002 MPV Minivan – decided to cease to work. Cynthia and I, and one year old sleeping Iris, were running some errands in Hanover, NH (about 10 miles down VT Hwy 191) on a beautiful unsuspecting sunny day. The kind of day that contains a constant whisper of a breeze that can trick a pale fellow like me into leaving his forehead out in the elements too long.  The kind of day where you wonder how things worked with driving before air conditioning. As we rolled down Hwy 191 we talked about how funny it was that when we were kids we actually used to roll down the glass in the car with a hand-operated mechanism so as to let the fast-moving hot air act as a conditioner. Technically, the air was conditioned by the car moving through it.  Isn’t the past a funny thing, we agreed. Mid discussion the car died and we began to coast.

I’ve always enjoyed coasting. My dad (and my guess, a host of other dads) used to regularly shut off the car and see how far he could coast and if we’d make it to the garage or any other acceptable parking spot. So, my first response was the feeling of panic one has when the car stops running on the highway. But a moment later, as we glided down the side of a large Vermont hill, I was overcome by the curiosity of how far we could go. What would be the exact perfect spot to pull over. I felt like a frontiersman looking for the perfect place to stop my wagon train and raise my family. Would people be friendly where I stopped? Could I grow crops? I thought I should be near a river if possible. Otherwise, how would I get my pelts down to market. I’ll need to build a canoe right away and…. I was shocked out of my thoughts by Cynthia asking if I knew what the problem was. I didn’t want to tell her that I didn’t know how to build a canoe, so I said I thought it was the transmission.

You understand, dear reader, I am not by myself in this world. There are three of me. I would argue that there are also three of you. No, I’m not talking about Sybilesque personality disorders (although, I can’t entirely speak for you). I have three distinct mes. There is Past Jason, Present Jason, and Future Jason. Past Jason often has very little regard for Present Jason and Future Jason. Many times Past Jason will do things that could potentially have ill effect upon Future Jason. He’s not sure, but instead of taking the safe path he decides that Future Jason will have the resources to deal with any issues that Past Jason can’t. Present Jason is always stuck in the middle and mostly on Future Jason’s side. There are some very difficult time/space continuum physics at play here that I can’t get too much into with you because – let’s just say, I don’t fully understand them. Future Jason is continually turning into Present Jason. There is also a point where Past Jason turns into Present Jason, but in my particular scenario Present Jason is much more aligned with Future Jason.  I would think that  a very responsible person who planned accordingly for everything and checked the weather on a regular basis could have their Present Self and Past Self get along swimmingly. This person might say something like, ” Good job Past Me. As Present Me, I have to say on behalf of Future Me, that we are so lucky to have you on board.”

When Past Jason bought the minivan he could feel the transmission slipping a little bit and asked for a lower price on the car to accept such a thing. He assumed Future Jason could make up the difference since he was getting such a good deal. Besides, thought Past Jason, Future Jason will probably have a  job other than stay at home dad, and more money coming in by then. Before we left on the trip Past Jason had asked his mechanic if there was anything preventative that could be done about the seemingly bad transmission. The mechanic only suggested putting in a new transmission. So, Future Jason was on his own.

As we coasted to a stop (just past the Passumpsic River) part way up the next hill (we wouldn’t want to end up in a valley) Iris kept sleeping. We called a tow truck and my father-in-law to come and get us. Past Jason did buy a smart phone for Present Jason to get a tow truck located in under 1 minute, so we need to give him some credit. I started taking things out of the car. First we took the baby out of the car. We try not to forget the baby. I put the baby – still sleeping in her car seat – on a little grassy hill above the ditch. Cynthia sat with her. I continued to unload the car of our semi-necesary things. The stuff that’s kept in your car (base camp) that you don’t realize you need until your car is gone.

Then my phone rang and it was Past Mechanic on the line. He said to Present Jason that we should have replaced that transmission. I asked him how he knew about my transmission dying. He said that it was on Cynthia’s facebook along with a picture of the car broken down and the mile marker. I got off the phone and realized that as Present Iris slept, her mom, Present Cynthia, had been replaced by facebooking, texting Future Cynthia. She moves so fast that Past Cynthia can barely stay caught up. I can only think that Future Cynthia could be real handy building a canoe and navigating a river. Maybe Past Jason can start learning from Future Cynthia.

Sadly Yours,

Jason Spafford

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