I have been obsessed by the idea of time travel for as long as I can remember. I think it was the deliciously cheesy old TV show “The Time Tunnel” from the 60’s that first caught my attention. The twirling vortex of black and white, the cute guys in the turtleneck shirts and bell bottom pants. How could I fail to be drawn in?
And then in high school I stumbled upon the book by Jules Verne, and my obsession was complete.
I have wanted to turn back time for so many years! When I am teaching history, I really want to turn the clock back to 1775. And (fool that I am) I want to be on Lexington green on April 19th. I want to be in Boston Harbor when those guys throw the tea into the water.
Sometimes I want to crank the clock back to the day when my Grandparents arrived at Ellis Island. I want to see their young faces, to read their reactions, to try to understand how they felt at that scary and life changing moment.
At other times, I want to slowly and gently wind it back to my own childhood. I want to see my Dad, young and strong and hearty, making pancakes on Saturday mornings for his big brood of kids, giving my Mom her one meal of rest. I want to see myself, a child full of hope and excitement and energy, wearing my red knit dress in the sixth grade, feeling so confident about my place in the world.
But now there are other moments, filled with the sweet sadness of looking back, where I would give everything that I have to turn that clock back only 15 years. I would give every bit of my life, my strength, my meager savings, to look just one more time on the faces of my children. I want to smile at them as I serve them dinner. I want to kiss those sweet, soft cheeks as I tuck them into bed.
God, I would give every minute of the rest of my life if I could only hold each one of those little ones, just for moment, to whisper in each of those perfect little ears, “I will always love you more than I love the next beat of my heart. I will walk on burning coals to get to you when you need me. I will fight off every foe, stand up to the fiercest threat, shake my fist at every challenge, just to keep you safe and whole and happy.”
If I really had a time machine, if someone out there could only make one, I would set the glittering dial to a spring day just like this one, back in 1996. And I would feed and hold and rock and sing to my three children; I would hold them close, and I would chase away every shadow that ever threatened to threaten them.
Jules Verne, where are you when I need you?