Saturday, August 22, 2009


One way to experience time travel is to simply return to a place that you haven't been to in a long while. I have had this experience coming back to Southern Ontario and Toronto this week, a place I used to live and grew up in until about 12 years ago.

Places or people get stuck in your mind they way they were the last time you saw them, whether it be 2 years or 12 years since your last sighting, and one has to quickly reconcile the newer version with the one that was embedded in your mind for quite some time.

Sometimes the experience of time travel occurs in obvious ways. For me it was the millions of condo towers that exist near the water front and rail lines in downtown Toronto that weren't there during my time. While for most people these buildings appeared gradually, for me they were there in an instant.

In the span of a few seconds your mind has to reconcile the version of a place embedded in your memory with the newer version unfolding before you. At that precise moment when your long established mental image of a place is confronted with the newer version you experience time travel, as if the two version evolved in a second and you are transported to a new reality.

Somethings remain constant though, especially on a deeper sensory level. For me the sound of the subway, the way the air moves with each passing train down the tunnel instantly brought me back to another time. There were also certain indescribable smells that were familiar to me. You certainly can't go back in time, but there are moments that provide a sense of what remains constant.

Of course the people I love change as well over time, though there are many aspects of them that remain reassuringly constant. This is of course more suited for another posting, as I am too much embedded in the moment to write further. More on time travel to come......


Allison said...

I experienced this coming back to Vancouver recently. Its funny how places get stuck in your mind in a certain way. The change is never gradual when you are the visitor.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

How very true. I have never considered that moment of reconciliation between memory and new reality as time travel before, but you are right, that's exactly what it is.

I hope your Tardis serves you well on your trip.

Comrade Kevin said...

I remember how after I lived in Atlanta for a year, returning to Birmingham felt like the world had literally shrunk in size. In Atlanta, the interstates and the roadways are twice as large to accommodate all that traffic, so when in a smaller place with less people, the effect was jarring.

Westcoast Walker said...

Thanks for the comments all - it is reassuring to realize that I am not alone in my experience of temporal acceleration - I also think the experience becomes more intense the longer you spend away from a familiar setting.

I can also relate to what Kevin was saying about a place seeming to shrink - sometimes in a literal sense, though often in a sense that after being away for some time you have moved beyond the prevailing ethos of a particular setting and no longer hold it's central tennants as gospel.

Thanks for commenting Allison - I think Vancouver itself, being a young city at this point in time is very conducive to a sense of displacement and time travel - being away from Vancouver for 2 years would be like being away from any other city for 10 years.

Barb - my tardis is all fired up! Of course I have dreamed of having one for quite some time - I would definitely travel ahead to the human-cyborg wars of 2212 AD and try to broker a cease fire.

bloody awful poetry said...

I enver really thought about it that way you know. Time travelling being the reconcilaition between memory and new reality, as Barb put it so very eloquently. I think I need to go cancel my order for that custom made neon green Tardis.With tassels.

Westcoast Walker said...

HI b.a.p - glad you could drop by - and I would still keep the Tartis if I was you - we still need a defense should the Daleks attempt another invasion!