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Memories and Musings: Time Traveler

By Gene Gallelli

Time has a way of changing how we see things. The transition doesn’t hit us like a lightning bolt – rarely is it at the epiphany level – it’s more gentle and patient like a favorite aunt or uncle.

Many things are capable of altering the persons we were to those we are becoming: songs, friends, flowers, or even the loss of loved ones. The brush-strokes of change ignore time and place and may paint you with pastels or darker shades. You may be alone or in a crowded room or standing in a meadow letting snowflakes settle on your tongue. For me – after all, that’s the only person I have a right to speak for and about – several changes happened during my many, long car trips.

There was a time when my car travels from “here to anywhere” were accompanied by timetables, traffic patterns and stressful obligations. While the events upon arrival were rewarding and purposeful, the “to and froms” were boring and time-wasting . . . until I opened my eyes, mind and heart to the world around me.

Gradually, the once drab, empty houses with broken fences, overgrown with weeds and rusted toys, suddenly became a once-happy family with children shouting and playing in pristine yards. A lonely tree in an empty lot became a colorful canopy beneath which a young couple picnicked in its waving shade.

On the outskirts of a small village the abandoned tractor I had often noticed, silently rusting in a fallow field, roared to life and I waved back at the smiling farmer who rode atop it, anxious to finish the day’s work and return to the warm comforts of his home.

Far too many one-pump service stations lined the roads I traveled, limply displaying faded signs of gas companies long buried in time. It was easy to picture the line of memorable cars waiting for a tank of gas that probably cost the driver two dollars and came with a uniformed attendant’s oil check and window wash, free of charge.

Passing family graveyards studded with concrete slabs of names and dates often made me shutter, until I imagined them talking in happy harmony, and I became jealous to not be included in their conversations of families and memories. A few graves held bouquets of bright flowers, and I wondered which were real and cared for, and which were artificial and forgotten.

Yes, over time we change; and, yes, roses are fragrant if you stop to smell them. However, a winding country road cannot change itself into a magic carpet; only we can.

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