I was thinking of time travel last night. My mind likes to explore all subjects while I am trying to fall asleep, some of them not pleasant. Time travel was a fun alternative. I talked to an old friend on the phone the other day. An hour flew by, and we hadn’t run out of steam or things to talk about. We picked up where we left off from a previous conversation many moons ago, without missing a beat. We have been friends for fifty-five years and she never changes in my eyes. And … it got me thinking.
One of my favourite movies is About Time. Any film with Bill Nighy in it is a winner in my books. The men in Bill’s character’s family can travel back through time but cannot alter history. As a young man in the film, Bill’s son travelled back in time to undo an awkward moment with a girl, to erase an unkindness he unwittingly did. Things of that sort. I was giddy making a mental list of moments I would visit given the opportunity.
Sleep would come more easily for those of us who wrestle with insomnia if we knew we could time travel at night, could return to those moments that were joy-filled or hilarious or precious. I loved being eight. At eight you’re pretty well self-sufficient. You’ve got most things figured out and no one wonders where you’ve gone when you’re out exploring on your own – climbing trees, pretending to catch fish, eating honey-suckles and wild fruit, catching frogs, looking under logs for salamanders, watching wasps from a safe distance as they build their paper nests and wondering how they do it. At eight, you can do it all, anything that really matters. I made my dad a rhubarb pie when I was eight. As I recall, he had to eat it with a knife and fork. I don’t think my pastry was what you would call fluffy. But he ate it; every last bite, his eyes wide as he nodded through his meal to assure me my pie was of the highest quality. It wasn’t, but that’s what dads do. My pies got a bit better over time. I hope.
I would time travel to a picnic in the backyard, under the shade of the ancient gnarled plum trees, complete with red gingham cloth to sit on, a hot summer day, a wash tub filled with water to cool off in, bees buzzing, egg salad sandwiches cut into little triangles with dill pickles, and watermelon, bare feet in the grass. I would time travel to the smell of coffee in Annie’s kitchen, her arms open wide when I burst through the door, warm blueberry muffins waiting for me. I would time travel to fixing fence with my dad. He would start a staple with his hammer, and I would finish pounding it in with my hammer, a two-handed grip and a whole lot of hits and his unwavering patience. I would time travel to Aimee and I laughing, laughing so hard we were bent double, tears streaming, trying to catch our breath, knowing that no one but us would find this particular incident as hilarious as we did. Oh, the laughter. So good for the soul. I would time travel to sliding off the barn roof, airborne and suspended as though time had stopped for a second before landing in the deep snow. I would time travel to tobogganing and bonfires and corn roasts and boat rides and playing marbles and hopscotch and skipping stones across the water and my first time on an airplane as my sister and I giggled with excitement at take-off as we imagined running that fast.
As Tim Lake says in the film – We’re all travelling through time, together, every day of our lives … All we can do is do our best to relish this remarkable life.