Telescoping   Leave a comment

Have you ever returned to a place you lived in the past and felt as if you just walked back in with no elapsed time passed?

I came of age in Oklahoma and after many years’ absence, I traveled to Kansas and Oklahoma a week ago.  I spent time both in Tulsa, where I went to college, and in Oklahoma City, where my mother grew up and where I spent time as an adolescent.  I went back to my grandparents’ house and the friend who drove me there took pictures of me there, standing on the edge of the yard in front of my memories.

I came every summer to spend a few days or a week with my grandparents.  We’d go to the library, the farmer’s market, go for walks.  Those times were valued by me, even then, when as a child, I really didn’t know to value the times.  I can still hear the sound of the upstairs house fan running and the sound of the traffic clicking and thumping over the road joints on Northwest 19th street, as I fell asleep in the hot humidity to the song of the cicadas.  I have memories of that house and my time there dating back to the 70’s.

As I traveled around Oklahoma City and then went on to Tulsa, after 27 years of being away, I found that I did still know my way around town.  I was able to drive myself to the first house my husband and I bought, even though I hadn’t seen it for 27 years and we only lived there nine months before we had to move.  It really had not changed that much.  Nor had my ability to navigate in my past.

Of course, the years had changed me quite a bit.  There’s a long road between being twenty-three and being fifty.

After I was back home, eating breakfast one morning, I felt as if the past were catching up with me.

Going back to a place you knew and loved starting forty years earlier has this effect.  You realize that it has been long–and yet not long.

I saw myself as a child in the arms of my mother and father.

I saw myself as an old woman hoping for a visit from my children because they have just told me I cannot safely drive to visit them.

I saw myself as I am now.   Do you remember the Star Trek Next Generation episode about the Mannheim effect?  Data deals with the effects of temporal distortions due to Mannheim’s experiments with time.  As he experiences himself in the future and the past, he must determine which Data is the present one.  In the same way, I could raise my hand and say, it’s me, but the past me and the future me are also me.

All those “me’s” started telescoping down into the one moment.

They are much closer together than I had thought.


Posted April 8, 2018 by swanatbagend in identity

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