Weekend Assignment #200: You’ve recently become friends with someone who unexpectedly reveals that he or she has a time machine, all tested out and ready for adventures. Your friend offers you one round trip to anywhere, anywhen, backwards or forwards in time. What’s your destination? Or would you rather just stay home? Extra Credit: The first trip is so wildly successful that your friend offers you one more trip, this time in the opposite direction. When are you going this time?
I suspect that this is a topic that would have had more appeal for me when I was a kid, or even as a teenager, than it does now. I mentioned in this post that I’m really not all that sold on “the good old days.” The older I get, the more I appreciate both when and where I live. Granted, we’re living in interesting times, but when I think abo ut going back to the past, it would have to happen in such a way that I’d have no idea of who I was and how I lived in my own time. Most of the issues and struggles in my life are those of a member of a pretty advanced and affluent society – which is to say they don’t take up much space in the big picture, and I am truly grateful for that. There’s much that I am able to take for granted in modern life, and if I knew about all of it and went back in time anyway, I doubt I could stay for long, because there are too many things I would miss.
For example, traveling back to a time before electricity and indoor plumbing is just not an attractive prospect, I must say, especially if I had to go back as a 21st-century person; if I had the identity of someone of that time who didn’t know of the future (my present), I suppose it could work, though. Ignorance would be bliss – but it would be more blissful if I went back in time as a wealthy person, since they seemed to have much easier lives (actually, that’s probably still the case now, but I wouldn’t personally know). As for traveling to the future – well, when I was a kid the year 2000 seemed like a very exotic prospect, so in some respects I’ve already done that. (And why aren’t we living like the Jetsons yet?)
But if my friend were to persuade me to take a ride in the Wayback (or Way-forward) Machine, I think I’d like to visit when and where my parents grew up – New York City in the 1940’s. Those were pretty interesting times too – there was a war going for half the decade, after all – but both the era and the city fascinate me. I don’t think the country has been that united in support of anything since that time. I think people were more grounded and more faithful, and particularly in the postwar period, more excited about progress. I’d also love to see some of the places and things my parents remembered from their youth, like the Automat and Macy’s (when it was just that big department store on 34th Street), and there’s just something about ’40’s style that I like. I could learn original swing dancing, and not that swing–revival stuff my son does. (Off-topic, but I’m actually envious of his mad dance skillz – I call him “Mom’s little Lindy-hopper,” but not when he can hear me.)
I think that trip would be it for me, though, and I’d decline the offer to travel in the other direction time-wise. I’m mostly a person of the here and now. Even most of the books I read have contemporary settings; my idea of a “period piece” lately is set somewhere during my own lifetime, like the 1970’s. I think any other time-traveling that I do is going to be via books rather than a time machine, but I appreciate the offer to try it out.
My husband had a far more interesting answer for this, by the way – he’d go to Roswell, New Mexico, in July of 1947, and see what was going on with that “UFO”. For his trip in the opposite direction, he came up with something having to do with bringing back an almanac.
I really liked Karen’s own response to the assignment in the main post at Outpost Mâvarin – The Beatles at the Cavern Club, Sunday, 19 August, 1962, their first Cavern appearance with Ringo instead of Pete Best. Hey, maybe she’d let me come along…