Hot Tub Time Machine and the moments when you changed your history.
The earliest time I can remember that could have changed my life was a time when the family was swimming at a lake in Southern Oklahoma. I had the idea I could swim out to a log floating in the water. There I would rest and then swim back. I made it to the log. It was a long hard swim and I was beat; really looking forward to the rest, the way you look forward to a cool drink after working in the yard. But it wasn’t a log in the water. It was a branch from a tree that was no bigger around than my own forearm. It had no buoyancy for me to share. I was close to panic. I noticed a part of the shore was closer than the swimming area I came from. I made for it and eventually waded up through grasses and reeds to be back on solid land. I think I got in trouble for leaving the designated swimming area but I didn’t care.
The next time that comes to mind is when I was out getting some McDonalds food for some friends at 1am. It was 1981 or 82. I was working at a science fiction / media convention in Oklahoma City at the Lincoln Plaza Hotel. James “Scotty” Doohan was the main guest. Coming out of the McDonalds parking lot in my yellow 1973 VW bug and cutting across Lincoln Avenue I was hit by a huge speeding car that was driving with its headlights off. It hit the car so hard it spun it over 180 degrees and caught the engine on fire. If it had hit the car squarely in the classic T-bone then I probably wouldn’t be here to type this. The car was totaled and the food was cold and uneaten but I didn’t care.
About three years into my first marriage, Tamara and I almost split up. We were both totally stressed from school and not communicating. I had everything worked out where we would separate over the summer and see if we really wanted to get back together. When I finally talked with Tamara about it, she broke down and it dawned on me that maybe we weren’t on the same page with the separation thing. So we talked it out and lasted a total of 24 years with 2 kids and lots of experiences.
After college I took the entrance exam to get into the FAA air traffic controller school. I scored 94%. I was in. But I wanted to go to New York City and see if I could get a job there. I had a few months before the school started so I did that. In May of 1989 I took a bus, because it was cheaper, from Oklahoma City to New York City. I stayed for a couple of weeks at the YMCA on 9th Ave getting a reduced rate with my OU student ID. I moved into a SRO place at 103rd and Broadway and found a job at American Lawyer Media (the company that started Court TV – now TruTV). So I never went back and became an air traffic controller. I would not be in the same place if I had. Would it be better or worse; I don’t know.
In 1996, just after Duncan was born, I had the choice to go into computers and move back to Oklahoma or stay in New Mexico and become a Civil Engineer and Surveyor. I was into my 3rd year working for David Blanchard Civil Engineering. It was fulfilling and with my Astronomy degree I could complete the requirements to be a fully certified Professional Engineer. The other option would be to accept a job programming for a hospital in Oklahoma City. I took the computer job. It just seemed the right thing to do; the thing I would have more fun doing.
In 2008 Tamara and I decided to take our relationship in a different direction. This could be done in Oklahoma or Seattle. We’re still working through the implications of moving to Seattle; including an amicable divorce. Was it the right move? I think so. Things would have happened in Oklahoma; other things have happened here.
Have I hit every major decision point? Probably not.
Where would I take a Hot Tub Time Machine? The way the movie plays it, you risk not coming back if you go back before you are born. If you go back to during your life then you replace yourself for that time (no paradox about meeting yourself) but that makes it hard to affect changes like saving John Lennon or stopping the Challenger explosion, Timothy McVeigh, or the World Trade Center. And even if you did any of these what would the world be like; Better, Worse, Different? I’d be tempted to go back and buy Microsoft stock when it was first issued, or Google. I don’t think the only two choices are avarice and heroics. It seems like it might be better if it was an accident; like in the movie.