My Personal Quantum Leap
Cara Marsi

This is summer when most people go on vacation. I thought I'd talk about a different type of traveling- Time Travel.

Do you like time-travel romances? I do. I love the concept of going back in time. And I’m willing to believe it can happen.

I’ve always wanted to go back to Ancient Rome. I love Ancient Roman history, but I know that was a brutal time. If I went back, I’d want a doctor and lots of antibiotics with me. And I’d want someone schooled in the martial arts to fight off all those blood-thirsty citizens. Much as I’d love to experience Ancient Rome and all its glories, I wouldn’t attend any games at the Circus Maximus. Seeing all those people and animals slaughtered would be too much for my modern sensibilities.

One time period I wouldn’t want to go back to is the Middle Ages. I’ve never really liked Medieval romances because I can’t get past the idea that most people who lived then had no teeth, no education and died young. And they never bathed. Sure, the Ancient Romans died young, and many had no teeth, but they were more enlightened than Medieval people, and the Romans bathed. They didn’t have soap, but at least they tried to be clean.

Do you remember the Scott Bakula TV show, “Quantum Leap?” I loved that show. In it, Bakula’s character time-traveled only within his own lifetime. That got me to thinking – what would it be like to travel back to a period in my own lifetime? Perhaps when I was a teenager.

I’m talking early 60’s here. I know, I know, some of you weren’t born then. But bear with me on my personal time travel. First, I’d find a car that takes me back in time, like the car in “Back to the Future.” I’d set it for 1962.

One big whoosh, and suddenly I’m in my parents’ living room. I look around. The couch is upholstered in dark rose-colored plastic designed to look like fabric. The furniture is dark wood and half the living room is paneled in dark wood. It didn’t look good to me 1962. And it looks worse now.

I catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror and jump back. My God, my hair is dark brown. Haven’t seen that color for decades. And it’s so dorky looking – a teased bubble, and I’m wearing a small bow in the middle of my head. What was I thinking?

I reach into my pocket to pull out my cell phone. I’ve got to call my husband and tell him about this. I have no pockets. I’m not wearing jeans but short shorts. Haven’t worn short shorts in many years. Of course, I have no cell phone. This is 1962. Touch-Tone wasn’t even invented then.

As if on cue, a phone rings somewhere. I follow the sound to the pink and green kitchen. On the wall is a relic – an avocado green telephone with a rotary dial. A rotary dial! I remember once, early 90’s, when my son was little and I mentioned a rotary phone, and he looked at me all wide-eyed, and said, “What’s a rotary phone?”

Back to 1962. No one is home, so I walk around and wax nostalgic for the things I remember. I find the TV and look for the remote. There isn’t one. Remotes for TV’s weren’t invented yet. Horrors, I have to turn on the TV manually. Even more horrors, there are only three stations, and all the shows are black and white.

I pass a mirror again. My God, I’ve got to do something with that hair. I race upstairs to the room I share with my sister. As usual, my side is neat and hers is a mess. I once roped off her side of the room because she was such a slob. I decide to wash my hair and blow it dry so it looks more natural. I search for the blow dryer, and then it hits me. There were no hand-held hair dryers in 1962. Back then I washed my hair twice a week and set it on rollers every night. Every morning I’d tease it to within an inch of its life and spray with hairspray, or lacquer as it was called. I washed it only twice a week so it would build up dirt and hairspray and be more manageable. Don’t judge me. My hair care routine was normal for that time. I wash my hair daily now.

Putting my hair woes aside, I wonder what’s going on in the 1962 world. I look around for a computer so I can search the Internet. There is no computer. To research anything I’d have to go to the library and look through books.

This little time-travel experiment is turning into a nightmare. I want my computer. I want my cell phone. I feel lost without my phone. When I started working for the telephone company in 1968, you had to change your phone number if you moved across town. We heard fantastic tales that someday we’d be able to use the same phone number anywhere in the country. Wow! Very sci-fi, and one I never thought I’d see. Before cell phones, if I was out and had an emergency, I’d have to find a pay phone to call someone. The thought of carrying a phone with me at all times would have been something straight out of an Isaac Asimov novel.

At this point in my trip, time-travel isn’t looking so good. I’m desperate to get back to the twenty-first century. I miss my hair dryer and my hair care products which are so much better than anything in 1962. I miss my microwave. I miss my jeans. (Note: only little boys, farmers and motorcycle guys wore jeans with any regularity in 1962 – at least in my part of the world). And most of all, I miss my husband and son.

I race back to the car, set it for 2011, and in a whoosh of air, I’m back home. I hug my husband, call my son who lives 3000 miles away, hug my microwave and my cell phone, then run upstairs and hug my blow dryer.

I wonder if I’m the only person who imagines time-traveling back through her own lifetime. The changes between 1962 and now have been fast and furious. Things we have today would have been stuff we read about in sci-fi novels or saw on The Twilight Zone.

All in all, although I wouldn’t mind having dark hair again, I think I’ll stay where I am.


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