We all know that going back home isn’t an option. But a girl can dream.
Last week, as the plane approached Greenville-Spartanburg (South Carolina) International Airport, the sight of red clay gave me a twinge. Home beckoned like a taunt. “Come back… Oh yeah. I forgot… You can’t.”
In my defense, I’m not trying to go back. I’m here to live in the present. To spend time with the people I love now. But, however much my intellect knows that going back isn’t possible, it can’t control my heart. The past, unbidden, beckons in my psyche.
With the events of the last week, time travel does seem attractive. I’d happily agree to Star Trek’s Temporal Prime Directive. I wouldn’t want to change anything. Just a short sojourn in the happy days of childhood.
I’d be perfectly content with a Holodeck rerun of my past. Just another sunny South Carolina day. No planes purposefully crashed into the sides of mountains. No friend’s sons committing suicide. A day when the adults took care of the adult stuff. I’d do the kid stuff—climbing trees, playing with friends, and complaining when I had absolutely nothing to complain about.
Looking it up, I’m surprised to find that it’s a Holodeck, not a Holideck. I always assumed the latter, as if they were taking a holiday from their current life in space.
A “holiday” Holodeck script unfolds in my brain. After hours of bike riding, playing tennis in the street, and “exploring” places our parents would ground us for exploring if they had known, the little girl across the street would be called home for dinner.
We always ate dinner later than the Olds, but knowing that Linda was sitting down to eat would flip a Pavlov’s dog switch in me. I’d trot dirty and barefoot into the kitchen.
“Mama, when’s dinner?”
“In about 45 minutes.”
“I can’t wait that long! I’m starvingly hungry!” I’d mean it too. Hunger always descended on me as a force to be reckoned with.
“You can eat an apple.” I knew she’d say that. I mean even without the benefit of hindsight and the Holodeck automated screenwriting, I’d know in advance she’d say that. My “starvingly hungry” was like a lob that she’d return over the net without even looking. The drama would escalate as I tried to convince her that a mere apple wasn’t capable of dealing the walloping blow needed to put down the hunger pains that threatened to consume me. I needed substance! Bread. Meat. Chocolate.
Here the dialogue peters out. Mom would probably put me to work setting the table or unloading the dishwasher to “distract” me from my abject misery of going several hours without eating.
Playing the Holodeck game in my brain quiets my wistfulness. I enjoy being in the south, hearing Ma’am and Sir, drinking sweet tea, and the friendly familiarity with which everyone greets each other.
Your Turn: Going Back
Try your own rendition of the Holodeck game. If going back to a typical day were possible, to what time period would you program it? What memories would stand out? How would that memory reflect the daily rhythms of your household? You friendships?