The Time Traveler’s Life

Over the summer I traveled back in time.

To my brother’s place, to be exact.

He lives in a college town, but we weren’t there to teach or learn; we were there to make an album. The recording studio was pretty state-of-the-art. My brother isn’t.

He doesn’t have a digital recording device or MP3 player.  Or a computer at home. Or cable or satellite TV (though he does have an idiot box on which he can watch rented movies).

He doesn’t want these things.

He reads books he borrows from the library. I went with him to the creaky, homey old library a couple of times, to take advantage of its free wireless internet. I don’t live in the past (unless you count the fact that I don’t have a smartphone yet). I’d brought my laptop. I’m a freelancer and I have to stay in touch even when I’m away from home, in case any work comes up. And I have to be able to do the work, if it does. Managing your time effectively as a freelancer can be difficult (although there is helpful advice on but it becomes even more difficult when you can’t work when you need to.

More amazingly, for someone who lives in a small town in Vermont, my brother doesn’t have a car. He walks to the school where he teaches. He takes commuter buses up and down the state when he wants to go somewhere. He rents a car now and then when a big trip is necessary.

On reflection, though, that doesn’t conform to the theme of living in the past. It feels more like living in the future. But that’s a story for another – a future – day.

After our studio sessions, back at his house, we went even further back in time: to our childhood, when we read books about dinosaurs. Only in those days there were maybe ten or twenty dinosaurs pictured in the books. Paleontologists have since discovered many, many more dinosaurs. I realized with amazement, paging through my brother’s thick, heavy new dinosaur book, that every dinosaur we knew of as kids – tyrannosaurus rex, trachodon, triceratops, allosaurus, ankylosaurus, what used to be called a brontosaurus – is now known to be a whole family of sauropods, dozens or hundreds in each group.

Makes sense when you think about it, with evolution working on these creatures for tens of millions of years.

So there we were, two guys in our 40s, reading books about dinosaurs. Just like when we were six, seven, eight years old. Traveling back in time.

After our second and final studio session it was Friday night, time to celebrate having completed the basic tracks. I wondered if the brewery in town had a Friday night tasting. My brother had never been to the brewery at all, though it was practically in his back yard. It was about time. Sure enough: Friday night tasting! Complete with a cask ale. So there we were, standing at the counter in the brewery, drinking cask ale. Traveling back in time alcoholically too.

So here’s to both kinds of dinosaurs – the ancient beasts who once roamed the planet, and the humans who stay just a little bit behind the curve, taking things a little more slowly, leaving time to contemplate.