Let’s say for a moment that there’s an iPhone application for time travel. Ok, it can run on Android, too.
When you’d enter a date in your life on this time travel app, you’d hit a button, look up from your phone and there you’d be: back at that date. You’d be whatever age you were on that date, but with your existing knowledge from present-day. The only limitations: it would need to be sometime during your own life, and you could only go backwards on the outbound trip. You could always return to the present time at will.
I know, I know: If you’re old like me and set it to 1969, you probably would attract some attention with your strange Apple cell phone. That might change timelines and what have you.
Work with me here. Don’t be so anal.
So, what date do you set it to, and why?
When I ask most people this question, they usually choose a date during some formative time. They think they would choose to go back and alter their course through life. They want to have not married that person, or to have not dropped out of school, or to have not punched that girl in the face or whatever. If only they hadn’t done that one thing (or done something instead), everything else would be great — or at least better than it is now.
I see things a little differently. I’d like to go back to a certain time just to dwell for a bit and relive a moment. I seek insight more than change.
It was early in 1988. I had been out of high school less than a year. I drove my dad’s ’85 T-bird to San Diego. I was supposed to be working, installing some electronics at a restaurant for his company–but I was taking my time.
I was driving North on I-5 one clear night when I heard this song on the radio for the first time:
There was something complete about that moment. I felt like a young man empowered with some independence, in command of a symbol of potency, supported at a distance by others, and capable enough while not overburdened with expectations.
I was surrounded by the wonders of the Milky Way. I felt I was a part of it, while at the same time beginning to know myself as an individual.
The lyrics also say: “wish I knew what you were looking for/might have known you would find.” That was relevant as well. I had no idea was I was looking for back then. It had something to do with civilization. That’s all I had to go on. Maybe someone could have told me what I’d find, had I been able to communicate what I was looking for.
Within a year my dad would be dead, our house would be going into foreclosure, and my mom and I would be working three jobs each just trying to stay afloat. It was game-on for the next 20 years or so.
Since then there have been many other times of happiness, but none quite like this that I describe. I think it was the end of childhood.
That’s where I’d go with my time travel app.