WAIT! Read this first.
I soon learned that it was indeed backwards in time. When I woke up, several days after that, I saw a calendar. It read: July 27, 1950. 7 months later, I said my first words. “I missed you.” My parents were baffled. I then realized the enormity of what I had just done, and attempted to recover by following it with, “ahmissoo” to try to disguise what I had just said as idle gibberish. Two weeks after that I said dada, to try to disguise my development as normal. As far as I could tell, they bought it. If I altered the course of history too much, the situations that I dreamed of running into so I would be able to handle them with the wisdom I now possessed would never happen. There were some situations I knew I would be able to prevent, that may render almost all of the others irrelevant. For that time, I set my sights on the relatively near future, my second birthday, when I would try to prevent the deaths of my grandparents and my uncle, which I imagined would have an overwhelmingly positive effect on my father and perhaps my entire second childhood.
2 months after that, I started to walk. You may not understand the immense joy this brought me. I walked without my old limp. There was no pain in my leg. Granted I couldn’t see over windowsills, and mostly, I couldn’t do much with my reduced stature, but I could move. This was as new an experience to me as it would have been if I was any other normal baby.
My first birthday was eventful, as I saw faces I never remembered seeing the first time around. An uncle I never saw again, and my grandmother, who wasn’t able to make it to my 2nd birthday for whatever reason before being killed in the train crash. Until that moment, I was almost certain that I never met her. Maybe I didn’t. I’ll never know, but all I remember is that for a few seconds, she held me as one would hold a baby while my uncle took a picture. She then as soon as the flash went off put me back down and resumed smoking her cigarette.
There really isn’t much that’s significant about a first birthday. The guest of honor is too young to appreciate all the attention, and most of the guests who have brought presents don’t realize that most likely the baby will never remember receiving them. Most of these presents are returned or more often thrown out in the weeks following the birthday. I got a rattle from an aunt (which never saw use), a stroller from the uncle (my parents already had a much nicer stroller, so they sold the uncle’s at their next tag sale), I got some war bonds from my grandfather on my mother’s side (what use those might be to a baby, I’ll never understand, as I never did go to college), and my grandmother, again on the mother’s side, gave me a hand-knit set of pajamas. (I never wore them as they were very itchy.)
I thanked everyone for the gifts, by yelling, “tankoo.” (Of course, I could have given a full-blown acceptance speech if I wanted to, but it would’ve done more harm than good. I hadn’t blown my “cover” yet and didn’t plan on it.) Another baby from down the street was in attendance; this one was a newborn and of course stole some of the spotlight. That’s not to say I cared all that much. I was just thinking about what I could do differently. That first year was mind-numbingly boring. If you’ve ever wondered why babies cry so much it’s probably because they’re likely tearfully bored out of their minds.
I wanted to at some point drastically alter the course of my life. But I didn’t have the means to yet and I didn’t want to alter it so much that the future I knew was the wrong one entirely. If that were the case, this wouldn’t be a very interesting story at all.