Sunday, May 20, 2012

Time Traveling: Real-Life Science Fiction

Elizabeth Fountain

There’s a reason why so many science fiction and fantasy writers tell stories that involve time traveling.
We all do it, you know. We all take regular trips back and forth through time, mostly back, at least for me lately, back, back, back, in a kind of Way Back Machine known as The Boxes in the Garage.

In addition to making this magical transformation from writer to author, thanks to Champagne Books (my first novel, working title Completely Absurd and Nearly Impossible, will be published in April 2013), I’m also changing from married person with a house to single person living in a small apartment. And that requires going through all The Boxes in the Garage, many of which are helpfully marked with labels like this one in front of me:


Oh yes, I think, that’s me. Taking the time to label a box in fairly neat letters written with the thick end of a dual-ended black Sharpie ™. But not taking the time to make that label at all useful. Thank you, past self!

The time travel really begins as I open the box and see what’s inside. Old college papers. The results of my Graduate Record Examination. Books. Cards. Playbills. Letters from friends. Pictures of people I don’t recognize.

Pictures from my honeymoon.

I’m not at all sure I recognize the people in the honeymoon pictures, either.

The Rolling Stone Magazine from 1984 with David Bowie on the cover, from about the time I saw him in concert up in Vancouver BC, one of my first adventures far away from any adult supervision. He’s looking gorgeous with his one blue and one brown eye, marred slightly by an unfortunate streak of mildew that looks like snot pouring from his nose.

Everything smells musty. Including the box itself, which I will be eager to discard.

Like the time travelers in our stories, we who time travel in real life also have to face dilemmas. The main one: what to keep, and what to discard. Which of these memories do we want, or need, to keep? What oh-so-helpfully labeled “Stuff” do we need around us in order to keep them?

I find some writing I did in grade school, and in junior high; I find the songs I wrote in my music theory class in high school. Teenage angst poetry, of course, but there’s something about them… those I decide to keep. After all, as an Author, my writing history has become Important, right?

Another time traveler’s dilemma: there’s always a bit of the past that sticks to you when you return to the present.

The bag of things I bring back to my small apartment smells musty, too.  

Elizabeth Fountain is an author, university faculty member, and consultant living in Ellensburg, Washington, where the wind blows through the Kittitas Valley at such speeds that the local saying is: "if it doesn't knock you over, it's only a breeze." Point No Point is her own blog on writing, baseball, music, and life.


Julie Eberhart Painter said...

Well expressed. We have a lot of boxes named "stuff." I agree, keep the ones that relate to your writing. It means something, and will be valuable someday, if only to your relatives.

I keep thinking of the Dana Summers cartoon that had an impact on my feelings and our histry. (He and Dunagan write The Middletons comic strip.)He's not only a friendly acquaintance, but a syndicated cartoonist.
His picture of the palace guard sitting on a curb , hat and all, crying into his hands when Princess Diana died, is my most treasured of his works. He was socked to know I had kept it all these yeas.

Your stuff is like opening a box at Christmas and your life falls out.

January Bain said...

A post that really makes you think...

Big Mike said...

Welcome aboard Liz

I sometimes look at my HS pictures to remember what it was like to be a young and hungry all the time, if ya know what I mean.

Michael Davis (
Author of the Year (2008 and 2009)
Award of Excellence (2011)

Richard Hacker said...

Love your post. I think we've all done some time travel in the grage or attic. The last time I moved I spent more time and energy digging through the past than moving in the present. Boxes and boxes of the past!