Jesus, I say. Where did the time go?
There was a little sleepaway camp somewhere up in the mountains of a little upstate town with a lake and docks and a little beach area with screaming kids, running around and lo and behold, I was one of them.
There are pictures of this somewhere. There are pictures of me, little and small, innocent and pure.
There are portholes of time that we call memories. We encapsulate them with pictures and photographs of us as we were, younger than we could possibly imagine and unafraid to wish or dream or believe in silly little fairytales.
We collect these photos and put them in albums. Each picture is a window. They’re like a time capsule that brings us back to way back when. There are pictures of us with blue lips or red lips because of an ice-pop or a powdery candy with more sugar in the candies than sugar itself.
These are the days of way, way back. These are the times when our Aunts and Uncles came over. They came with our crazy cousins.
These are the times when life was less organized but more so, our life was conceptualized of Sunday dinners and rules that called us to be home when the streetlamps came on.
Where did this go?
The bicycle rides around the town and the times we saw the town’s bag lady. Crazy Mary is what we called her in our place. What happened to all the machines at the arcade? What happened to the parks and the playgrounds? Why are they always so empty now? And what happened to record stores? Remember them?
I do. . .
I took a walk during a rainy Sunday. The town was mainly quiet and cold. The rain drizzled and the sky was dreary to say the least. I walked a few miles from my home to the record store. I picked up my first Black Sabbath cassette tape and placed it in my Walkman. Which, by the way; whatever happened to Walkman’s anyway? Everything has been replaced by smaller, more technical gadgets. It used to be simple. There were four buttons on my Walkman. Stop, play, rewind, fast forward. And that was it. That was all we needed. And we were fine with this. Or at least, I was.
I remember the walk home. I remember the music in my ears. What a victory this was. Yet, somehow, I doubt kids today would understand something like this.
Goddammit! They have everything at their fingers now. I mean, hell, back when we were kids, we used to work hard to see nudie books. We used to watch scrambled television shows with hopes to just see a nipple. Not anymore though. You don’t have to work for anything now. There’s an app for everything. No need to imagine or wonder, just point and click on your computer or handheld device and go.
Where did the time go? When did everything change? Maybe it was after the first wedding. Maybe it was after the first person moved away or when we got jobs and paid for things, like rent or bills.
I remember a bus trip that was long and cold. I leaned my head against the window and watched the sides of the highway move by like a blur. I was thinking about the way we were. I thought about when we were young enough to run through sprinklers and scream. I was thinking about the age of wonder and how age interferes with imagination.
I was thinking about children and how they are the true imagineers of the world.
Imagineers. That’s right.
Do you know what an imagineer is? The dictionary will tell you an imagineer is someone who is practiced or skilled in imagineering.
Imagineering is implementing creative ideas into practical form. This is what we need. We need more imagineers in this world. We need this immediately.
There was a time when a bunch of us would pick up some old planks of wood and plan to build a treehouse or a clubhouse. The end result never looked the way we planned. But still. The ideas were there. The ability to dream was there. This is imagineering.
We need this.
I don’t know when it all changed. I suppose maybe this changed when we found out the moon is not made of green cheese. A cow never jumped over it. The wheels on the bus are still going round and round; except, the novelty has worn thin.
There was a game we played after lunch at school. The game was called kickball, which is the same as baseball —only, you kick the ball instead of swinging at it with a bat —and the ball is a big round red thing. We used a soccer ball a few times. We played and we ran and we’d sweat and then we’d go back to class and talk about who won or lost or who slid into home plate with grass stains on their pants.
This was imagineering.
This is what we need. It’s not a new president or an old president. It’s not a vaccine or an order to stay home. We need a sense of wonder. We need to be as we were. This is back when the threat of Santa not coming was bigger than any other law in the world.
I want to go back. I want to see where the time went. I want to be that kid again. I want to be that imagineer; the kind that swore we could gather lightning bugs in a glass jar and use them as lanterns.
I want this back. I want the feelings back. I want the results.
I want to feel the way we do when looking at our old photo albums and say “Good God, what the hell was I wearing?”
I want to laugh at the outfits. I want to feel the times when my Grandmother came over and told me a story. Her voice was softer than velvet or silk. Her hands were the warmest. She’d touch me so lovingly and instantly, nothing could ever be wrong.
And Goddammit, I want my Mother back. I want The Old Man back. I want to have the feeling just before the doorbell rings and my family is coming over for the holidays. I want to go in the bedroom where they kept all the coats and jackets piled up on the bed.
And you. Yes, you. I want you to help with this.
I want you to think about the way the house was set up and how we connected the tables together. Use your imagination. Close your eyes and think about this.
I want you to think about where people sat. And think about the kids table. Think about the older kids table. And think about the sounds. Think about the conversation and the people eating, forks and knives, clanking against the plates.
Remove the problems. Remove the arguments that happened because deep down, now that we’ve grown and so far away, we are old enough to understand that all of this is trivial. It’s all a bunch of nonsense.
This is where the future is. Keep in mind, whichever way you look and whichever way you face, this is the direction you favor. But don’t get me wrong.
I don’t want to go back or look back. I want to go forward. Only, I want to go forward like this. I want to have wonder in my life. I want to have that feeling of excitement and not allow anyone or anything to intrude or inform me that dreams won’t always match our reality.
I want to feel the same way I did in the backseat of a car and while heading over the 59th Street Bridge for the first time. And there she was, my friend, New York City.
There is a big world out there. The record stores are closed. The arcades are all gone. Nothing is really open anymore and the news is telling me we can’t gather for the holidays this year. Therefore, as head Imagineer, effective immediately, I am officiating an executive order. I have reached out to Santa himself and called his number +1-951-262-3062.
I have decided to use all of my imagineering abilities to make more memories. And we’ll laugh and maybe we’ll cry a little. But the tears are only because love is this enormous thing we took for granted for way too long.
Imagineering the future. That’s what we need to do.
As head imagineer, I imagine this letter will meet you wherever you are. I imagine this means as much to you as it does to me.
I imagine this reaches you. And I imagine you’ll smile and you’ll dream and you’ll wish for your dreams to come true.
But wait, how does the wish poem go again?
I think it goes something like this: Star light, star bright, the first star I see tonight. I wish I may, I wish I might, have this wish I wish tonight.
I have to stop writing for now. I have some imagineering to do.
And hey, Mom?
I’m going to make mashed potatoes this Thanksgiving. They’re not like yours but I try really hard. You’re welcome to come if you wish. I’ll make extras.
I promise . . .