I first discovered how to time travel quite by accident. It was 1985 and I was turning seven. The sun was bright and warm; the grass was long, green with a touch of yellow at the ends of the longest pieces. My birthday party was in full swing as several of my friends and I chased my mother across the late spring lawn. She was tall and vibrant, my mother, laughing as her skirt rippled out behind her in the breeze. I was chewing gum, a rare treat for me on that day, and it somehow popped into my head how funny it would be if I stuck that gum onto my mother as a joke.
It was not funny. The laughter over, the game ruined, she asked me why I would do such a thing. I had no answer. I had been caught up in the moment of being seven at last, and it seemed a perfectly good joke for that split second in time. Time. Time was already moving on, but it somehow occurred to me that this was a story I might remember until the day I died. This was a moment that would pass before my eyes as I slipped the surly bonds of earth. It was the first time it had ever occurred to me within a certain moment, that this moment might be one with slightly more permanence than others.
More than a year passed, maybe two, before I realized that I was able to travel back to that moment. I had plenty of other memories, sure, but they were hazy and muddled. Sometimes they even changed. I couldn’t trust them except as approximations, vague dreams, prophecies in reverse. But that day, the game, the running, the smile on my mother’s face, the gum, the smile’s fading, it was all there for me. I could travel to that time whenever I wanted. I couldn’t change anything of course, and no matter what I shouted at my younger self I could not affect the outcome of the moment. That’s not how this works. My mother most likely does not remember this story at all. I assume she had not created a temporal tether at that specific instant. But I more than remember. It is one of the many way stations I have built along my own traversable timeline, and I have been there more times than I can count.
As it turns out, time travel is much simpler than most people think. All you need to do is to create your own temporal tether points to return to later on. Time does flow ever forward, so once you pass a moment without tethering it can be very difficult to get back to, but as long as you are prepared with the knowledge ahead of time, you should be able to grab any moment you like and return to it later. I have one the moment my fiancee turned the corner and began to walk down the aisle to become my wife. I have one holding my infant child. The quiet moments work best, because you need time to save time. I created one just last week and it took 5-10 minutes. I tested it once today, going back in time five days to make sure that it held, and it seemed fine. I am confident that the system works.
I was at Ruby’s soccer practice, sitting on the warm grass of Wednesday evening, and it struck me that, for that brief moment of life, everything was perfect. I knew that I needed to build a tether point, and so I lay down on the ground next to the field and began to absorb time into myself. The trees in the distance, the feeling of the short grass underneath me, the look of my arm on the field, the girls laughing and running as they kicked the ball back and forth. All of this I took into myself, noting how the light played across the leaves of the trees and bushes, really feeling the breeze dance through my hair, inhaling the deep smell of the earth, watching the stray clouds go drifting across the brilliant blue sky, and rooting my soul temporally to the spot just by willing it to be so. “Remember,” I told myself softly. “Remember the when of this moment.”
If you want to be able to get back to any particular time again, you are going to need all of it. It’s best if you can start to see the scene in slow motion, as if everyone were stuck in the key moments of a hair product commercial. Slow everything down and absorb it all. The sights, the sounds, the smells, you can’t lose a single piece, or else you risk never finding your way back there again. Someday Ruby will be grown and gone. Someday my back will not allow me to lie down in a grassy field and gaze up at the sky. Someday there may be no trees, or grass, or sky, or children, or who knows what else? I have only successfully traveled into the past. The future is still a mystery to me. But if I have learned anything from life it is that everything is temporary. Nothing lasts forever. No one is immortal. Not in this world anyway.
But that’s okay. Ruby can grow up, as she should. I can age too. The leaves and grass can wither and die, and then come again in the spring. But when I someday look around me and begin to grieve for what I have lost, or what was gone too soon, I will have no need for despair. Because I can always return to that moment, to see my nine-year-old daughter again, giggling with her friends as the September wind blows gently across my fingers resting on the soft grass.