The Mirror in the Time Capsule



I like to think I’ve changed since I was a teenager. Safely ensconced in my 30s, I’ve never looked back at the maturity and mentality of my teenage years and thought, “I wish that was still me.” I don’t know any grownup who does. We look back on our fads and flippancies with something closer to horror.

So I’m appropriately horrified to learn that I’m more or less exactly the same as the somethingteen-year-old me, who filled out a personal trivia survey of over 600 questions for no good reason. I was looking into a metaphorical brain mirror.

The questions ranged from silly to serious, introspective to absolutely inane.

The virtual snapshot of my inner self has sat on my hard drive ever since its creation, for no practical purpose. It had been forgotten, until now, when I thought it would be interesting to look in there and see how much I’ve changed since high school.

In essentials, it appears I haven’t, with candour largely the same—although, I found my tone and attitude incredibly annoying to read, so I hope that marks a change. It reads like its from some strutting posturer who grossly overestimates their own wit. (If nothing’s actually changed there either, I suppose I’ll discover that in time, when I look back on this blog.)

Apparently I either didn’t have a serious thought in my head when I answered the questions (that doesn’t sound very like me), or I just felt too uncomfortable about laying all my cards on a digitally preserved table, and so deflected with cheap humour (that sounds very like me). So while that tells me a facet of myself that has remained consistent, it unfortunately doesn’t allow me to see what my teenage self thought of deep and controversial things like umbrellas and Riverdance. And university and religion—those are in there too.

However, Question 66 appears to have been answered by a different person entirely. “What’s the longest time you’ve ever spent on the phone?” 

Apparently, 10 hours. And I went on to say it would have gone on longer if other party’s mother hadn’t found them on the phone at two in the morning and sent them to bed.

The thought horrifies me, now. Ten hours? Really? Even ten minutes is a long call! 10 hours… It had to have been either my best friend, or a cute boy. And since I don’t know of any boys happy to just talk on a phone for 10 hours, the better guess would probably be my best friend. Who, incidentally, I’m not even in touch with anymore.

Questions 202 asks, “What’s your favourite number?” I’d replied, “If I had a favourite number it would be even, because I’m odd, thus balance is achieved.”

Well…at least I can tell I’d outgrown my 5ive fanaticism by this point. And I approve of the quirkiness.

Question 222 asks, “What are your favourite hobbies?” This remains reliably consistent, with graphic design and writing as the winners. Question 320 asks, “What is your dream job?” which apparently was, “A big-time Computer Graphic Designer. With a giant wall-mounted flat-screen plasma TV to come home to.”

I don’t even know what would constitute a ‘big-time’ designer. And if I had a giant wall-mounted flat-screen plasma TV, I doubt I’d have time to watch it. But I’ve worked on an international magazine, and had my work mounted on building exteriors and acknowledged in book prefixes, and that probably would have been ‘big-time’ to my past self.

Of course, there’s an example of my wish to be both contrary and philosophical, with Question 501: “Is the glass half empty or half full?” — “Neither. The glass is simply too big for what’s in it.”

Reading the answer to Question 266 made me smile. “What is your favourite childhood memory?”

Unsurprisingly, the memory didn’t have any other people in it. My favourite memory was always going to be a solitary event.

“I was lying on my bed one day,” my answer read, “when out the glass sliding doors I watched a cat play with a brown leaf. When the cat left, the leaf still moved in the breeze. Except there was no breeze. I was curious, so I went to have a look. It was a baby bird. It didn’t have all of its plumage because it was so little.

“I picked it up, and it was too weak to struggle. I lifted its left wing — the web underneath was slit, but everything else looked intact. I de-husked some of my budgie’s seed with my teeth — it took me 3 hours to de-husk 4 seeds! They certainly weren’t designed for human teeth.

“I fed the seeds to the hungry bird. I made a little bed in a small box, and put some milk-soaked bread in. I nailed the box up high, so cats couldn’t get it. I called him Microsoft because he was so small, and he was so soft that I couldn’t feel his feathers when I stroked them — but I could see I was stroking them, coz they moved under my finger. Every day I checked on Microsoft after school.

“One day, he was gone. I figured he’d jumped out the box, and was caught by a trespassing cat.

“Months later, I was really pissed about something. I don’t remember what, but I remember nothing could make me feel better. ‘God, even you couldn’t make me cheer up!’ I yelled at the ceiling.

“‘Cheep’, came a reply. It sounded nearby — right outside my door.

“I looked outside, but didn’t see anything. I slid open my sliding door, then saw a beautiful fantail on a chair outside by the woodpile.

“I slowly approached. It didn’t fly away. So I sat down on the chair. And still, it only chirped at me.

“I lifted my finger up to its feet — how I get my budgie to stand on it — and it stepped up onto my finger, still chirping. I had a wild fantail chirping on my finger! Then I wondered something…

“I raised my other hand, and lifted its left wing. There was a slit underneath, in the web.

“Then Microsoft flew away, his flight curved but steady. I never saw him again. But I was cheered considerably, and smile when I remember that moment.”

That’s true. I do. I just did.

I don’t know what I’d expected to find in that virtual time capsule of a survey. But it wouldn’t have been my reflection.


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