I can't break up with Graham today, even though I told my friends I'd do it the next time I saw him. So instead, I'm hiding in my bedroom, setting up my new computer while he plays Ultimate Frisbee in the park across the street. (1.1)
Right away we see Emma hiding from her dreams—in this case, her dream of single-don—in the present. We also see her using her computer to do so… for the first of many times.
"Here's the thing," I say, taking in a breath. "In the future, you're married to Sydney Mills."
Josh's mouth hangs open.
I open the car door. "We're going to be late." (7.31-33)
Marrying Sydney Mills is everyone's dream, but she's so hot that nobody like Josh would plan on that dream becoming a reality. Here, though, Josh finds out that dreams really do come true. Or at least this dream does… though he doesn't hold onto it forever.
I personally have never had sex. It's not like I'm waiting for love because who knows if that will ever happen, but it always felt like I would be giving too much of myself to a guy. Like Graham. I definitely wouldn't want him to be the one I lose my virginity to. (11.4)
At track practice, Emma thinks about her plans for sex, and while she may not always make the best decisions, she's definitely in control of this one. Which is great, because this decision has the potential to be a real deal-breaker—it could end up being a dream come true or a big mistake.
"I always imagined time travel would be so big and life-changing," she says. "Like A Wrinkle in Time or Back to the Future. But here, all most people care about are lame vacation photos and trivial things." (14.35)
What a bummer: Emma is totally disappointed by what the future looks like. Guess it's not exactly as she'd hoped and dreamed…
Kellan links arms with me and squeals. "This is our first step on the way to med school!"
"We're going to med school now?"
"We can even live together. And do our residency at the same hospital!" (17.22-24)
Putting the distant future aside for a minute, here Emma and Kellan are talking about the next big step in their lives: college. This is a really normal dream for a high school student. Also normal? Kellan's dream involves the two friends going to school together.
As I hold the phone against my ear, I actually feel sad. In the future, Jordan and I were supposed to meet at college and get married. Now, we'll probably never even know each other. (25.54)
Emma takes action to change her fate because she gets the feeling that her future with Jordan is not ideal. But it's a bit sad when she says goodbye to the guy she was supposed to marry. Who knows how she would have felt about Jordan if she had met him under ordinary circumstances? She nips this prospect in the bud.
When I get back to my room, I snuggle deep under my covers and think about Kevin Storm. His name is perfect. I wonder if we name our daughter Olivia. I've always loved that name, and Olivia Storm sounds like she'll grow to be a confident woman. (29.9)
Slow down, Emma—here we're finding out that she's kind of quick to form opinions about things that she really doesn't know anything about. After getting rid of her first husband, she immediately assumes that the next guy's a lot better and starts daydreaming about naming their kid.
I wish I could muster her level of enthusiasm. Yes, I'm relieved it's over with Graham. And I'm excited about Cody. But Josh's attitude at lunch bothered me. It's like the discovery of his future is changing him now. (36.7)
First of all, neither Emma nor Josh knew that it would become a dream (or a reality) of Josh's to marry Sydney Mills. It sure isn't on his mind in 1996. But when he finds out that someday he will marry her, it puts the idea into his head—and it starts changing who he is, motivating him to want different things. His dream starts influencing his reality, if you will.
With her sunglasses on and her hair spilling around her shoulders, Sydney looks content with whatever life tosses her way. It's the exact opposite of how I feel. I know that someday she and I will own a house out here and go on fancy vacations. But something amazing must happen between now and then because, at this moment, we don't feel right for each other. (47.48)
Josh is trying to make a dream happen that was supposed to happen all by itself. And when he tries to force it, he finds that he can't force what he wants here and now—so maybe this dream will have to stay just that: not reality.
All week, I've known bits and pieces of my future, and I've wondered how my current actions affect me in fifteen years. But when Emma's finger touched mine, I was only thinking about now. (65.1)
In the end, Josh figures out the key to success: In order to end up with the right future, he has to listen to his heart now. Sure, we would all be thrown for a loop if we were able to see what happens to us someday. But the future doesn't just materialize out of thing air—it may feel like a dream, but it's concretely built in the decisions we make now.