Somewhere in Time
18-21 February 1983, Age 40, Nightstar* rural Foley, MN.
On Saturday, 5 February, Donna and I went to the movies and saw the romantic, sci-fi time travel movie, Somewhere In Time. There was something provocative about the movies concept, it was a dramatic time travel love story, still there was something more…
We enjoyed the movie so much that we stayed and watched the show a second time before leaving the theater.
The next day, on Sunday afternoon, we drove back into St. Cloud and saw the movie for a third time. On Monday, 21 February 1983, I sat down and wrote a letter to my friend Mike DiGirolamo. In the letter I described what happened in my life, in relation to the movie, over the previous few days, particularly on Friday, 18 February.
Donna rented the videocassette and we watched it several weekday evenings, we bought the films musical soundtrack and borrowed the book, Bid Time Return, from the library.
I began keeping a journal as a direct result of seeing the movie, Somewhere in Time, and the events that followed.
The story (printed below) was so unusual in its effect on me, that I made a photocopy of my letter to Mike; and several months later the correspondence was entered into my first journal, Journal 1: The Gordian Knot. That story, with some wording changes, is as follows:
[CD Music Album; Somewhere in Time, Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini]
Monday, 21 February 1983:
Donna has just left for work. I have taken today off as a vacation day, I’m feeling terribly run down.
I have been pacing back and forth in the kitchen, thinking about how to write this letter to you . Filling my senses are the background music from the soundtrack to the movie, Somewhere In Time.
Without any foreknowledge, I began an odyssey two weeks ago tonight. It began when Donna brought home the videocassette movie, Somewhere In Time. Monday and Tuesday we watched and agonized our way through it three times. That Saturday we borrowed the book, Bid Time Return, from the library and bought the soundtrack on audiocassette. (The movie, Somewhere In Time was based on the book, Bid Time Return.)
Saturday afternoon and into the evening, I read the books two hundred seventy six pages. Sunday, I reread the book, while the soundtrack played over and over in the background. Again on Monday and Tuesday, February 14 and 15, we watched the movie. Tuesday was the 8th and last time we’ve seen it so far. Donna’s currently reading the book.
Wednesday and Thursday of this last week, I was like a madman, bristling with some unknown energy inside myself. I whistled the theme song, Somewhere In Time and Rhapsody On A Theme of Paganini until my mouth was tired. I read and reread portions of the book. I was becoming haggard to the point that Donna commented on how I looked.
I went to bed Wednesday night, my mind racing in an unknown and uncharted direction, sleep came slowly and fitfully. Thursday morning on the way to work I still felt haggard, rundown and washed out. As I drove to work through a light predawn fog, I listened to the soundtrack on audio tape while wondering why I was so moved by the movie and the book. What in my experience was causing this? Was it a longing to know my Great Grandmother, Anna Flora Anderson-Grubb, whose pictures are in the family photograph album? Years ago my father gave me her wedding ring to keep as an heirloom, just as he had once been given this very ring. Was it from seeing the many photographs of our ancestors at various ages?
Thursday night when I returned home from work, I got into the drawer on the bottom of my dresser, a dresser made before my time. I rummaged through the drawer past an envelope containing the last half dozen letters my Grandmother, Elsie Grubb-Pierce wrote to me. Then deeper past my baby brush and comb, down to the “Bluebook” (The Anderson family line back to Charlemagne.)
I reread a note written back in the 1800s, The family had moved west to Iowa. I remembered that in my youth, Grandmother Elsie told me the story of the Anderson brothers and their families, moving west with covered wagons and horses. This was the same story her mother Anna Flora Anderson-Grubb told her when she was a child. Once there was a bad year for crops and some of the relatives were forced to grind flowers to make a flour filler for bread.
After looking through my old family heirlooms, my troubled mind felt more at ease. Thursday night after supper, we watched the videocassette rental, Saturday Night Fever. FVor awhile after Donna went to bed, I sat up listening to the Somewhere In Time soundtrack, this was the first time I’d just sat enjoying the music and not recalled the story’s imagery. Whatever it was that haunted me, was pacified, I slept well that night.
Friday, 18 February 1983:
This morning at 5:15 AM, I was again driving to work while listening to the morning news on the car radio. For about fifteen miles the predawn fog was horrendous. In those early morning hours, with such fog as is seldom seen, I could not see off either side of the road, nor behind me in the mirror. Visibility was so poor that I accidentally strayed into the left lane and had to swerve sharply to keep from running off the shoulder on the wrong side of the road. As the miles slowly ticked by, sounds from the radio faded from my consciousness. I became aware of only the fog which seemed to distort the world. I rode through the fog, warm and comfortable while sipping from my cup of coffee. The white lines painted in the center of the road came out of the fog and disappeared, passing behind me into the fog. All around me was a cosmic void, a whitish gray substance that obliterated the present.
I approached St. Cloud and the fog slowly dissipated. Just as gradually the sound of the radio returned announcing the Farm Commodity Report. Headlights from other cars were seen passing at the intersection ahead.
I ‘punched in’ at the time clock at Landy Packing Company. The next hour and a half were very busy, the only thoughts on my mind were the immediacy of my job: Meter readings came first, then the “grease tanks” and “sludge tank” needed pumping to the tanker truck. I chatted briefly with the tanker driver. I oiled two pumps and made up two batches of chemicals to clean the waste water. Then, I poured some deodorant on the floor to freshen the smell of the waste water plant. Some sludge had spilled out of its holding tank over night so I squeegeed it up. Unsatisfied with the job, I hosed that section of floor and squeegeed it again. Time passed rapidly and before I knew it, it was break time.
I went into the wastewater plant laboratory five minutes before break officially began and poured a cup of coffee. Absentmindedly, I tore a piece of scratch paper off a pad beside me, pulled a pencil from my breast pocket and began writing.
[CD Music Album: Somewhere in Time, Somewhere in Time]
? 8:56AM to 9:20AM, Date unknown
The room faded from my senses, while the roar of my twenty horse power pumps and the din of the boiler vanished beyond some distant horizon. There was only that piece of paper and the blur of my pencil. I did not see it write, but never-the-less it wrote. There was light all around me, though now I realize it was only the fluorescent ceiling fixtures. But at 8:56 AM there was light, there was a piece of paper of indistinguishable size…
I was unaware of the fleeting moments as they passed…
Out of the piece of paper a vague human form evolved.
Instantly, I knew it was me, yet paradoxically, it was not me. For an increment of time too small to measure, I felt a gentle tug from the present, then the room flickered. I felt huge tears in my eyes, I felt their salty sting and…I was gone.
In that instant of transposition, with tears in my eyes and wearing greasy coveralls, I opened myself to what was occurring and began to understand. I was joyous and sorrowful at the same time. Tears stung my eyes. The vague human form again evolved, but now out a light that was everywhere in front of me. It was neither male nor female, it was both. The baffled and confused me. It was a child, then it rapidly aged. I wondered if it was beautiful, ugly or handsome. A suggestion came to me, more as a statement than a question, and it whispered in my mind, “Does that matter here?”
The form was directly in front of me, being perhaps only fifteen inches away. We looked into each other’s face. It was not changing so rapidly now and I could see it was for a short time a young woman, but with each blink of my eye (so to speak) she aged. The form morphed into a young man and he aged. Once again the form lost definite facial features, if indeed they had ever been definite, but we remained in very close proximity.
I looked down into the eyes of the creature and a second great transposition took place. I was evolving out of a piece of paper and the creature, a DESCENDANT OF MINE, was looking down at me. He became real in time and space. At first I was an amorphous form, then I evolved into a living being. We looked into each other’s eyes, then merged in some mental plane of understanding.
Another surge of tears stung my eyes and I felt a pain in the creature who looked down at me and tears were in its eyes. This was more felt than seen. Once again, the form lost its static features and began to rapidly age. There passed one, and another, and yet another person before my silent gaze. The rapidity of times passage made the people blur like multiple overlay images or as though a continual morphing process were under way, only I remained static.
Again and again, I felt the tears well up as I saw and felt the presences before me. Through their eyes I saw that I was a book or manuscript. A thought crossed my mind, stating, “So, that’s what became of me.” For a moment now and again, the forms were as moved by me as I was by them. At these times I felt overpowering surges of love for the form and we shared wonderment and awe for each other. In this way we communicated, touching each other’s lives as creatures sharing the same time, giving to each other the pure energy of love and undemanding understanding.
? 9:20AM Friday
I became aware of the paper in my hand. The lab was again around me. I looked up at the wall clock, it was 9:20 AM. I was at work and coffee break had been over for five minutes. I put away my lunch box and thermos, opened the laboratory door and listened to the overall din of the boiler and motors. I know the sound made by the wastewater treatment plant when everything is running properly, nothing sounded amiss. After standing in the doorway looking and listening to the plant for a few moments, I reached into my pocket and pulled out the paper I’d just written on.
Words written during transposition
“Here we sit, staring at each other across time and space. I am a flesh and blood being, so are you. Currently, I am embodied. My words give you but a ghostly shimmer of my world. I know in my heart that you are there in front of me. You are here with me now…
To you, I have been arrested in time, an entity in time’s cage. This entity has a variety of faces: youthful, teenage, young man and middle aged. All are one, for I am encapsulated in these words. A point in times past.
To me you are ageless. I can consider you and love you no less, for you are a kindred creature of my flesh and spirit. You are youthful, a teenager, a young adult, middle aged, older, an old bodied person with the spirit of a child. Though you come back to me a thousand times in your life, there is a part of you that never changes. Your body blossoms to maturity and wilts, but the You inside, You are as I am Me. You are a child in time.
We, You and I, have so much in common, we are ever so close now. We are like the upper branches and lower limbs of a tree. You are like an upper branch, nodding in the winds of time to come, while I am a lower branch, swaying in the breeze of times past. I looked below me on the tree and old dead limbs fell, crashing to the ground. As I watched they became topsoil. When I looked back up the tree, you had sprouted, your leaves uncurled and you became a twig.
How strangely to speak. Yet our being united like THIS has caused tears to well up in my eyes. You sit and read, wondering with a hint of anticipation at the words I shall speak with you. As your years pass these words will change. Like a kaleidoscope, meaning will shift and vary, but it is you who are the kaleidoscope. Your interpretations and attached values and interests will shift again and again, as you look back through these pages and into my eyes…”
Thirteen years later
I began writing into Journal 1, The Gordian Knot, on 19 May 1983. Thirteen years later, having penned 4813 pages into 24 each (8-1/2 in. x 11 in.) hard bound books, I closed the jounrals and laid down my pen. In that thirteen year period, I covered every imaginable aspect of the life of a family in the latter part of the 20th Century. Enclose in those volumes ar a one year daily diary, explorations into particular events, about 9-10 years worth of complete local daily weather records with sky icons, lists of foods eaten for extended periods during different times of the year and a decade apart, gardening, lists of all the books in the house, lists of all purchases by check for a full year- at 10 year intervals, stories from our vacations and camping trips, raising and educating our daughter Jane, converting a homesite at Nightstar* from forest, social events and occassions, discussions of changes in various public services across the decades, my wife’s return to college, enumerated/weighed household garbage and waste disposal, growth of computer technology and the early years of the Internet, social programs, investments, our ‘extended family’ affairs, my interests and projects, the occassional larger world events of wars and economic problems, my ‘philosophical’ ruminations and observations regarding the world; religion; my Antiques and Collectables business … the life and times, the mental matrix of Mr. Larry, an anonymous person, a traveler in time.