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For 49 of the 53 years I have existed on this planet I have lived within the same five mile radius. I have not been afraid to travel, indeed I have visited plenty of states in the U.S. and countries in Europe and even now work in quite a few. I neither offer up this bio as a defense or to illicit sympathy, it is simply a ‘this is how it is’ situation. I love the slightly upper middle class suburban N.J. environs I will always consider home, adore my family, friends and neighbours and take comfort in the familiarity of what I see around me every day.
Given the above set of circumstances I experience plenty of moments of time travel. I only have to walk down a tree-lined expanse a few blocks from the brick-faced Tudor I grew up in, or a trek to the park at the dead end of my parent’s street and I can mentally travel back to any number of moments, good, bad, indifferent that happened to me in these exact spots. I’m not sure if I have been blessed with a good memory per say, as much as it is tickled to consistent use living where I live. Quite often the recall comes upon me when I least expect it, as if a constant movie trailer of ‘this is your life Ralph’ plays in my head; I don’t as much go looking for the memory, they spark-up as I pass a place or spy a neighbour.
Facebook and to lesser extent Linked-In and other social networking protocol are our modern day time machines. I merely step out my front door or drive over to the Quick Check and have memories roll up on me, but too many of us are purposely delving deep across the net to find ex -grammar school class mates, family or worse, an ex-lover. And very much like stepping off that path to crush Mr. Bradbury’s butterfly (and if you don’t understand this reference might I refer you to Ray Bradbury’s “A Sound Of Thunder” in fact, might I refer you to every damn one of Ray Bradbury’s stories!) we run a huge risk when we purposely step into our times machines for a journey back.
I can’t count the many people I know who are ‘on’ Facebook for the sole purpose of looking for an ex. The dangers in this are too countless to name: our x doesn’t want to become ‘friends’, our ex doesn’t even remember who we are, our ex remembers all too well and begins a plot revenge of decade-old wounds, or the worst case scenario, we actually begin again a romance with the x that has no way of surviving beyond two people desperately trying to build on that which they had decades ago but is no longer alive.
Go ahead, try fitting that round plug into your square hole (or anyplace else).
Or how about those folks so stuck in looking at old class pictures or reconnecting with their graduating class some half a century on. I have seen a group of my grammar school mates-grammar school!-posting old class pictures and sharing ‘likes’. Yes, it’s fun to have to entertain a moment of recall, live in the past for an afternoon, but where is all this time traveling leading us?
We all want to go home again, but usually they have moved the furniture or sold the land for condo development. Not in my case of course, because I never really left home, but I’d like to think I have stayed more out of a desire to live in a place I simply like (the season change in New Jersey alone is enough to keep me here) then that I want to live in the past. Hell, maybe I am kidding myself and I’m just as guilty as my Facebook brothers and sisters?
Jesus, banish the thought!
All I can say for all of us is: careful where you tread when stepping out of the time machine; butterflies are too easily crushed.