Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Time Travel

I found myself today driving around the neighborhood I lived in from 1977-1985, and noticed that it was growing up. I don’t mean it was spreading out into the nearby community, but that the smaller houses had been torn down and the new houses built on their lots are huge. I wished my kids had been with me, and I’d like to take them back soon so they can see a part of where I grew up before it’s completely changed. It also made me wish that things could stay as they are, that my kids would stay young and never grow up, get jobs and move out of my house. And then I laughed and laughed and laughed…

I’m currently reading the novel Oracle Night by Paul Auster, and in it he discusses the idea of time travel and whether it would be morally wise to change the outcome of history. It got me to thinking, “What if time travel were possible?” Seriously, this is what I was thinking. And I wondered if I could travel back to any day of my past, with my kids, what day would that be? What did young me do that would impress these little people? What would help explain to them who I am and, indirectly, who they are? I finally decided on Christmas Day 1974 because I got some cool stuff, like an Evel Knievel motorcycle with action figure, some sort of plastic train engine and, more than likely, an inchworm – JP would’ve loved this array of goodies. And I’d like to see The Trio, who all look like me anyway, in washed-out 1970’s photos sitting there playing with me, dressed in similar plaid pants and turtlenecks as I wore. And wouldn’t those old photos freak people out now? To look at them and see me sitting there with my own children. At least it would have given me some sort of idea as to what to expect. If we time traveled today then I’d know I’d have three kids someday. If we waited about a month then I’d know there’d be four, but you really shouldn’t time travel with an infant that young. Of course I wouldn’t know who their mother is because she was only two on Christmas Day 1974 - her daughter would be three. And there would be all kinds of stuff I could do to them if I were four and they were three, four and eight. I could push them down or tell them to “shut up” or take one of their toys away from them and run and hide without feeling guilty or being arrested because we’d be peers, and at that age I didn’t know any better. I’d get in trouble, sure. My mother, their grandmother, wouldn’t have any of that behavior on Christmas Day.

But now that I think about it, really think about it, this whole idea might not be such a good idea. Time travel could probably mess things up. These kids have systematically lost every little battery door on every TV remote control we’ve ever had. Can you imagine if they lost the battery door of the time travel machine and the batteries fell out somewhere between now and 1974? Nobody ever thinks to buy extra batteries for Christmas Day, so we’d be trapped. Trapped on Christmas Day 1974, which would be fine for me because I’d age normally and still be 35 now, but my kids would be 35, 36 and 40, and they’d probably still be living at home and still hogging the Evel Knievel motorcycle with action figure.