The other night I dreamed I was a time traveler. And of all the years I could have (re)visited, they—whoever they were—decided to send me back to 1991. And of all the places in spacetime they could have landed me, they decided to go with the front door of my childhood apartment in Woodside, Queens.
I didn’t know what my mission was, but when my father opened the door, I figured I must have been there to warn him (a synecdoche for humanity) about something. Isn’t that what time travelers do?
I was about to explain to him that I was from the future—I was going to try to, at least—but then I found myself just standing there, looking at him. We looked so much alike—it was jarring.
I got scared and worried that whatever I was going to say would foul up the spacetime continuum, like in Back to the Future.
But if that were the case, I thought, why would I have been sent back in the first place? Maybe the foul-up was necessary.
Finally, I opened my mouth, but I couldn’t remember what I wanted to say. I couldn’t remember the mission. I couldn’t remember a thing, really. And that’s a problem for a time traveler.
September 11th. I should tell him about that, I thought.
But we were in 1991, 10 years before the attacks and I couldn’t remember any pertinent details. I couldn’t remember the times the planes struck. Or the names of the hijackers. Nada.
I panicked. Maybe there were some hit songs from the future I could sing to him? But I couldn’t remember hooks or choruses.
Maybe something about 1991? Did anything happen in 1991?
What a shitty memory!
I was a useless time traveler. I was upset. But he invited me into the apartment anyway and sat me down at the small white dining table in the kitchen. My mother came into the room to look at me.
I sat there for a while, breathing in 1991. I didn’t ask about the nine-year-old me. Honestly, I wasn’t even sure he had ever existed. I just waited for the future to get me out of there.