My mom is in the process of moving, so today I helped sift through the many decades of books that have accumulated in the house. Each book needed to be sorted into “keep”, “throw away”, “give away”, or “save for particular family member”.
It was a strange feeling to watch my own childhood and early adult experiences pass before my eyes, and to hold pieces of those experiences in my hands. Memories I had not engaged with for quite a few decades came roaring back.
This was a very different experience from sorting through somebody else’s collection of fantasy and science fiction books. For one thing, I was catching glimpses of the various stages of my very own existence.
There was that essay I wrote in college, a copy of my very first published conference paper, my high school graduation yearbook, my favorite book of magic tricks. Each item by itself seemed a bit random, but taken together they started to form a mosaic of my life.
I think this may be as close as I ever get to an actual working time machine.