This summer I learned how to make a time machine. It makes sense that I discovered the secret in my mother's garage, back in Boulder, Colorado. It also makes sense that it had been there all along, I just forgot to look for it: that big box of home movies. By quick estimate, there were one hundred sixty reels of regular and super eight film in the box that had been moved from one location to another over the decades, and they were all transferred to digital video in a process that took over three weeks.
There was a time when I fooled myself into believing that I would someday acquire a projector and take the time to view all of those hours, or that I would suddenly find myself burdened by an excess of time during which I could put all of that which Kodak had so lovingly preserved onto discs that would last another fifty years. Moving pictures of the first Christmas at our new house. My first visit to Disneyland. The forty-seventh family reunion.
It was an odd experience, sitting there in my grownup living room, watching events take place again in another place in another time. That's what I usually do in my living room, but this was different because it was me cavorting back and forth across the screen, wearing clothes that I can only vaguely recall, but doing things that I have spent years recalling from photographs. Suddenly, the motion of these pictures allowed me to fully connect to that past. I remember the warmth of the sidewalk out front of my parents' house. I remember the smell of the grass near the end of the yard where my mother had her rose garden. I remember the sky. Blue, gray, orange, pink, incandescent. All of those trips to the desert southwest. All those sunsets. I tried not to pay attention then, since my father cooing about the colors in the west were my first memories of rolling my eyes. Now those eyes can see what he was talking about. And taking shaky Super Eight movies. When he was pointing his camera at us, and begging us to show up for posterity, there was no way I could possibly have known how thankful I am today that he did that.
It's my childhood. It's my neighborhood. It's my brothers and I and the kids on our street going about our lives. It's aunts and uncles showing up for one more Christmas. Cousins taking us on another trip to the zoo. It all really happened. It wasn't a dream at all. As it turns out, it was the stuff that dreams are made of. Amazing.