I went back into time today and I didn’t even do it with atop a platform-mounted saddle with a big clock on it.
Was just sitting in my pod, pushing papers and bits about, the headphones funneling a 70s station into my ears (I like 70s music – it’s a far more comforting time than now).
The song “Hotel California” came on and I blinked. I suddenly (and vaguely) recalled a game I used to play on the Atari, a two-player thing where you shot your way through top-down mazes. I remember sitting at my pal’s Jesse’s exotically-Jewish house, working our way through it in a bedroom that smelled like wet dog. Miki, that was the dog’s name, a big old poodle-sasquatch-thing.
I posted the game memory over to Jesse who responded with “Wasn’t that a thing about zombies? And you had to touch your partner to bring them back to life?” No, that was another game, one with isometric levels and brain-searing neon. Found a picture of it online and marveled at it. Oh yes, I remember being quite good at this thing.
But now my background was blurring, the time-machine’s clock handles spinning. At lunch, images hit me. The Philippines. Our maids (originally Rennie and Tessie, then Cora and Tessie). The smell of gun oil in the NavMag as I’d listen to my tinny radio while cleaning a wall of M-14s. F-4s whining through the pattern below our house. A sig-parasol balsawood plane my brother and I built and watched sail over the fence, wafting far out over the jungle, white and pink against the emerald green.
And Oklahoma City, riding my bike on an epic loop around the Lake Hefner reservoir, stopping at the far side to sit on the guardrail and eat a sandwich, looking over the green prairie fields.
Our train layout in New Jersey, and my dad bending a paperclip into a handy dandy uncoupling tool. I sat in the present and bent one at my desk and smiled. There was a creek in our backyards, with rabbits occasionally running through the dew-jeweled grass.
As time drifted in my officeworker day, I remembered my friend Tom in the Philippines, his guitar-banging sessions in his bedroom. All those Avalon Hill games – Africa Korps at Tom’s house, Richthofen’s War on a bench at George Dewey High School, Jutland with Dad on the floor in Oklahoma City, with the furniture pushed clear of the North Sea and the clocks showing 2am.
Then there was Milton Bradley’s Dogfight, little Spads and Fokkers in card-flipping death duels, medals rattling on their stands.
Smokey and Misty, two cats, with their love and eventual ends.
Cincinnati and my bonehead friends, and the stupid stunts we got each other into. The railroad bridge with the sad bones of a shattered dog below the deck-truss.
Turtles in the backyard in California.
So much history.
If your life does flash before your eyes when you die, I’ll enjoy mine. I’m just sitting here smiling.