Yesterday afternoon, while editing a paper in the writing center, I had an inexplicably strong desire to go out to dinner with my parents to a restaurant called Crossroads back home. The weird thing is that I haven’t been to the restaurant in probably 15 years; the restaurant has changed ownership numerous times, and my family got out of the habit of going after it kept closing and re-opening.
But in a flash, I imagined myself as a little girl: shoulder-length, pale blond hair; wearing jean shorts and a t-shirt; swinging my legs against the wooden chair rails. My family sat around a square, wooden table, plates and cups in front of us, and tables stretching out across the restaurant. I remembered the decor of the restaurant: trees and deer painted on old saws, specifically. Kind of weird out of context, but totally appropriate there.
In that moment, I wondered if time travel wasn’t just a little bit possible. Maybe time truly isn’t linear; maybe time folds back over itself, and our memories are just ghosts of ourselves existing simultaneously in another dimension. Maybe while 25-year-old me sat in the writing center on a September afternoon, marking up a PTRW book review, six-year-old me was eating dinner with her parents and brother and swinging her legs against her chair while eating fried shrimp and French fries.
Maybe if I’d closed my eyes and fallen into the memory, I would have been six years old again. As long as I could have just as easily returned to 25, I would have enjoyed that bit of time travel. I remember the excitement of being six years old, when I would jump up and down and cheer because my parents agreed we could go to Crossroads for shrimp night instead of cooking dinner at home. Sometimes, 25-year-old Haley doesn’t get as excited about life’s little adventures as six-year-old Haley did.
Even if I didn’t actually time travel, that one memory has left my homesick since yesterday afternoon. I can’t explain why that memory came to me; nothing in a paper about The Gospel of Judas should have made me think of eating fried shrimp with my family as a little girl. Nonetheless, I’m grateful that even the most mundane memories are still vivid enough to insert themselves into my life at random moments. And maybe next time I visit my parents, I’ll take them out to dinner and get really excited about it.