This morning at the bakery my coworker informed me that her neighbor has a TARDIS in their backyard. It took me about ten minutes to stop hyperventilating. My logical self knows that there is not an actual 900-year-old madman Timelord with a blue box that picks up plucky young women, but as a 23-year-old with ambitions and travel lust who also happens to be stuck in some dead-end jobs, I can’t help but feel like a viable companion candidate. I know it’s not possible, but there’s still that tiny part of me that still looks in the postbox (or fireplace or between window panes) for my Hogwarts admissions letter or that magical doorway in an abandoned garden. In reality I know that the “TARDIS” in the neighbor’s yard is probably a clever shed paying homage to their favorite sci-fi show, but that didn’t stop me from hyperventilating for a few minutes.
Back to mixing cookies, back to reality. Today was a heavy dose of reality: an eight-hour shift a the bakery and a six-hour shift at the gas station. Nothing brings you back to reality like selling cigarettes, lotto tickets, and 30-packs of Busch Light. Except when a bearded man in biker gloves and those pinstriped conductor overalls came in and was writing a check. It started out so normal. He took his sweet time writing the check as I idly folded old receipts into paper cranes, an old habit.
“Let’s see…today’s still the 29th?” “Yep, that’s still happening.” “And it’s still 2013?” “Yep. Unless we entered some kinda time rift,” I joked, but he looked up at me in shock.
“You know about those?!”
“That was what my research was on!! Time rifts and dimensional vortexes. There are eight spots they’ve discovered where there are dimensional vortexes. Used to be they’d pick people off the streets and send them through, but now they only send government people through.”
He is in earnest. He is dead serious. He goes on to talk about how time travel is real, how people have been time traveling since the 1930s. “Who knows what the government is doing? Changing the past…changing the future…but really, the past and the future are the same thing.”
I can only say, “Huh.” Until I decided to just roll with it, that is.
Maybe it was a bit unfair of me to say, “Yeah, it’s crazy. There’s this diner in Kingsley where it’s always 1959. No matter when you step in, it’s just 1959.”
“1959? Really?” The man looks fascinated. “What town’s this in? Man, I would go back there and live in 1959. Back in 1959 I was about 8 or 9…those were good times.”
Then he started talking about Roswell. “I want to get into Area 51…make some connections and get in to see the vortex they’ve got there. Man, if I could travel in time I’d go back to Roswell and watch the crash, see what actually happened. There were three aliens on that craft, and two of them died, but one survived, did you know that?”
“I didn’t,” I said honestly.
“I don’t know if they knew what species it was.”
“Well, it’s alien. How could they know?”
“Oh, they’ve identified…what is it? 17 or 18 different species of aliens now? 17 or 18 that we know of.”
I’d never met someone so into the UFO and time travel mindset before. It seemed silly to me before, and it still does…but listening to this old guy talk about wanting to escape back to the past, wanting to see something extraordinary….maybe we weren’t so different.
Hell, maybe there really is a diner where it’s always 1959. It’d probably be in Iowa if it existed at all.