Time Machine - Something capable of transporting a person backward or forward in time.
About halfway to Lewes Beach, Delaware, a song jolts me out of my highway trance and transports me Adelphi University. The corner dorm room, room 250, in Earle Hall. Distant Early Warning by Rush. A song that used to be played once per week but has for some time now been buried under lawn care, and diapers, and spreadsheets. There’s a twenty-year-old lanky junior in that dorm room methodically putting on his uniform. It’s my turn to pitch that day and so this song, as it has since senior year of high school, must accompany the routine. The song has absolutely zero baseball meaning but pitchers are notoriously superstitious. It had played a significant role in winning a key High School playoff game and therefore would, from that day on, be counted on to improve the odds throughout college. The vision comes to me as vividly as if I am actually there. And along with the vision, I can almost feel that familiar sense of excitement and nervousness that was also part of the routine.
Since there was an inadequate breakfast before leaving for the two-hour drive, a slight detour to McDonald’s would be in order. Two of my boys were with me for the weekend. They were patient but undoubtedly hungry. Three large fries would tide all of us over for a while. One is placed in the cup holder next to me, one is handed to Michael who was in the passenger seat, and one passed into the back, where John was reaching out with a smile. It wasn’t always that way. I’m transported to the backyard of my long since departed New Jersey home. Standing in front of a little boy, strapped in a backyard swing, and using McDonald’s fries to coax a word, any word, that damn elusive first word which is a herculean achievement for those with autism. It was anything but a smile then. Anger, despair, frustration, screams, and tears. And then……it happened. The words! Those elusive first words! It is as vivid as if it just happened. As is the relief, joy, hope, smiles, and tears.
The beach was hot, and the tide was coming in. Michael and John, not ones to sit still for very long, decided to explore and see what they could find. I fell into another trance as my playlist blared from my phone which was expertly placed in the front pocket of the cooler. Their return, after I don’t really know how long, gave me the second trance-ending jolt of the day. Pockets full of pebbles, shells, and other pocket-sized things one would find on the beach, were dropped on the towel next to me. As I stare at the small pile of souvenirs, I am suddenly transported to the dining table in my apartment. Sitting with John as he carefully, and proudly creates another work of art to be displayed prominently in the place of his choosing. I can see vividly the sense of satisfaction he will have as he completes his masterpiece and places it by the TV next to the other trinkets I have accumulated over the years. I am quite confident that will be exactly the place where it will go.
We are surrounded by time machines. They are out there. Everywhere. Waiting for us to find them, to notice them, as we make our way through the day. Taking us on journeys backward and forward in time. Reliving past experiences, good and bad as well as preparing us for future experiences, good and bad. But not only do we find them, we also create them. And, sometimes, we give them to others.
About halfway home from Lewes Beach, Delaware a snore from the passenger seat jolts me out of my highway trance and transports me to a room, in a house, that I don’t recognize. There are two middle-aged men there. One is reading something on his phone and the other has decided to inspect a small vase that is sitting next to the TV. It is filled with pebbles, shells, and other pocket-sized things.
“Hey, John. Remember the day we went with Dad to the beach and you made him bring home all those rocks?”