Immanuel Kant held that time is neither an event nor a thing, and thus is not itself measurable nor can it be traveled. Isaac Newton held otherwise, as did Doc Brown, flux capacitor in tow. Much of my own time these past few years has been spent traveling; a failed drive to Colorado, a two-week drive through southern Utah, even a month on tour with my band. And now I find myself back in Colorado to visit family, staying with my dad again in the house where his wife of forty-eight years, and my mom for thirty-three of those, died eighteen months ago.
48 years. 33 years. 18 months. Where has the time gone?
Traveling, particularly by car, is something I grew up with in St. Louis, Missouri. Mom and dad took many cross-country trips before having my older brother and I, and largely kept up the tradition afterwards. A trip to Disneyworld in our 81 Caprice with mom’s co-worker/best friend Barb. Several trips to Colorado, which I loved, except the excruciatingly dull chunk in the middle known as “Kansas”. (I did, however, learn to highly appreciate night driving from Kansas. It’s an adaptation I employ to this day when covering old, tired ground.) So it was no surprise that dad wanted to spend a few days driving around the southern mountains of Colorado once I got here.
He pointed out the routes of most interest, and I interneted maps and hotel reservations for two nights. The first night was in Montrose, and the second was in a small hamlet called South Fork. I was at the wheel of the Camry, crossing long out of service railroad tracks towards the hotel when the DeLorean gleamed at me from in front of the office. My first thought was a replica, but the collector car plate disabused me of that notion.
Shortly after settling into our room, I went to the office to inquire about the wifi. The managers are a husband and wife team with two kids, and the wife, Dee, gave me the password. An hour later we decided to walk down the road to find some dinner. I went out first and stood by the Camry in time to see Dee open the infamous gullwing door of the DeLorean and climb in and drive off. Yes, it is Dee’s DeLorean. DeeLorean? Anyway, the engine was somewhat throaty and burbly, but pretty quiet. The suspension when she slowly crossed the two sets of railroad tracks was anything but quiet. Go out to your garage and quickly lift and then drop your toolbox. Pretty much what it sounded like.
During dinner, dad complained about the tiny tube tv in our room. The Cardinal game was coming on, and he’s used to hi-def on a 46 inch screen. I remembered seeing a large flat panel tv in the guest area of the hotel office, and suggested he inquire about using it. Success! We spent the next three hours watching the Cards win 4-3. A few innings in, Dee came by and built a fire in the large stone fireplace. I remarked at my surprise at being in a small mining town 8,200 feet in the Rockies and finding a DeLorean. She chuckled and took a seat and told me the tale.
Like a majority of the world, she became aware of the DeLorean watching “Back To The Future” as a young girl. The aluminum sliver struck her fancy, and she simply wanted one. The reality of the car (rarity, build “quality”, cost, etc.) was irrelevant. It was her Dream Car, and it remained her dream car ’til two Thanksgivings ago when her husband sniped one off Ebay as a surprise present. I didn’t even have to ask about the cost, she just offered: 15 grand.
Watching your own mom die has a profound effect on a person. What would I do differently if I could go back in time two years? What more would I say? What less? Would I even do it at all?
My own sands of time are slipping through the glass, just like all of us. I watched mom’s last grain slip through when she exhaled her final breath, at home and surrounded by family.
So now what? Time travel is not an option. The future is up to me, here and now. No shortcuts, no excuses. But…if I could go back. If I had that time machine. What would I do differently?
If you could go back, what would you do differently?