Is time travel real? I’m not convinced; however, physicists say it happens all the time. Movies like Back to the Future or Time Traveler’s Wife offer a diversion from real life, but it’s still Hollywood, don’t you think? Then again, the events of the last month have left me wondering. Crazy as it sounds; I boarded a time machine and in the span of three days experienced my own version of back to the future. Well, sort of.
Upon returning home from work, I noticed that the light on my telephone answering machine was flashing. Laden with packages, I casually hit the play button. When I heard the unmistakable voice that reached out to me from back then, I literally dropped everything. The voice belonged to my dear old (not in the “old” sense) friend, Kevin. A lifetime ago, when I lived on Staten Island, he and his partner Billy were my next door neighbors. I returned his call immediately.
When Kevin answered the phone, my heart hiccupped with excitement. Our mutual pleasure was palpable. Words jumbled out of our mouths and before long we were talking over each other (not unusual for me.) Kevin was flabbergasted when he discovered, through a mutual friend, that I was living in Jamesport. As it turns out, he was visiting with relatives in Greenport the following month. We set a date (in stone), and like a kid waiting for Christmas, the weeks couldn’t pass quickly enough.
When I thought of Kevin and Billy bittersweet memories began to surface. I was saddened when they moved to Florida and heartbroken when Kevin returned to Staten Island to bury Billy. Playing emotional ping pong, I felt melancholy because life got in the way causing us to lose track of one another; and then, delighted that we were back on track.
Fast-forward one month.
When I pulled into the beautiful inn where Kevin was staying, I heard his voice before I laid eyes on him. And when he came into view, I jumped into his arms. For a moment, time stood still and then it reached back and grabbed me by the collar and pulled me forward.
Over lunch, we were catapulted to “back then;” it felt as if the years in-between never occurred. We laughed uproariously over our Saturday morning music marathons: I would blast Neil Diamond records, while the resounding disco beat emanated from their house. Lordy, lordy! Imagine, if you will, the cacophony of sound between the two houses.
When we returned to the inn, we sat on the porch and talked about our lives: the loves and joys; the losses and pain. We experienced contented silences, random musings and noisy remembrances.
Our conversation veered to the present and to the legalization of gay marriage. I am an upfront gal and was comfortable telling Kevin how brave I thought he and Billy were. Back then, being gay was better left in a closet. I confessed that their genuine love for one another was a tipping point in my own life. They taught me, by example, that love is love is love.
Alas, all good things come to an end. Driving back to Jamesport, I was flooded with memories and a staggering sense of nostalgia. On that lovely afternoon, I traveled back to an irreplaceable familiar life — a life that I thought was lost to me forever.
Two days later I traveled into the future.
I was surprised by an invitation to visit one of my favorite places, the MoMA (Modern Museum of Art) by my young friend, Abby. (Abby is 15, going on 39!) After a few text messages, a date was set (also in stone.) I eagerly awaited our jaunt into the city.
On the appointed day, I picked up Abby and we headed into Riverhead to catch the bus. Visiting New York City, always gives me a thrill and Abby echoed my feelings. (Refreshing! Many kids can be sheltered living here on the North Fork.)
The MoMA is chock-full of paintings, sculpture, architecture, design, drawings, photography and great works of art. I was enchanted with the museum and with Abby. She led me through the galleries with incredible self-confidence.
Stopping for lunch, Abby shared her thoughts on a variety of topics: colleges, careers, the arts and last but not least, her burning desire to stop at Sephora. And what gal doesn’t want to shop at Sephora?
Entering Sephora we became giddy when we learned that they had two whole floors of beauty products to ogle and sample. And sample we did. Abby had a makeover; while I stopped at every perfume counter and spritzed away.
On the return bus trip, we were surrounded by empty seats — maybe because I reeked of perfume!) Deciding to stretch out, Abby put in her earbuds and I took the seat behind her.Looking at her lovely profile, I glimpsed Abby’s future — and how glorious it is. Abby has arrived in a good place — a place that recognizes gay rights as human rights; and women don’t have to settle for a life of mediocrity.
It is my hope that Abby will remember this trip with a sense of warm nostalgia — the same nostalgia I felt when I was reunited with Kevin. In truth, the moments we share today, inspire the memories of tomorrow.
A word of caution: Traveling back to brittle or poignant memories may cause the heart to break, yet, it’s these very cracks and scarred places that enable joy to filter through infusing our being with hope and healing.
Perhaps we can never go home again, or live in tomorrow, nonetheless, our memories can carry us to “back then” and our powerful minds can fast-forward our dreams into the future. Pretty amazing stuff, huh?
Celia Iannelli is a native New Yorker enjoying a second career — in ‘retirement’ — as a freelance writer. She lives in Jamesport.
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