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Relay: Traveling Back in Time

Wed, 06/12/2019 - 19:12

Time travel. It’s one of the great, impossible things we sci-fi nerds dream about doing. And I recently figured out how to do it.

There was no need to build a flux capacitor, or find instructions for a tesseract, or outfit a spacesuit with a time crystal solicited at great cost from a Klingon monastery (or impress everyone with my vast knowledge of fictional time-travel technologies).

No, all I had to do was change jobs. More specifically, I stepped back into a previous position I held here at The Star, and suddenly it felt like I was in 2016 again.

With a few notable exceptions, things are eerily similar. As I write this, I’m sitting at my old desk, occasionally glancing out of the same window to my right, watching a light rain fall over the familiar stream of traffic on Main Street in East Hampton Village. Many of the same friendly faces were here to welcome me back. I’m writing about a lot of the same topics I used to cover, calling up people I haven’t spoken to in a long time, using a phone line with the same extension number. Many of the familiar routines here are still in place. My email address is the same.

The world is not the same without David Bowie, Prince, and Leonard Cohen, and I never shook that feeling of P.T.S.D. from the 2016 presidential election. 

But the Wi-Fi password here’s different and I think the lightbulbs may have been changed.

Traveling through time has allowed me the chance to reflect on the last two and a half years. Got married, made lots of new friends, worked for a wonderful family for a while. I feel like I got a lot better at journalism. I wrote a feature-length screenplay, a few short stories, and several chapters of a new novel. Learned I completely took my health for granted. Two knee surgeries taught me that. Always take care of your knees, kids.

I realized the last three years marked the longest I’ve stayed in one home since moving out of my parents’ house exactly a decade ago. I started figuring out the back roads and shortcuts around town, whereas as a newcomer to the South Fork, I was hesitant previously to ever venture off Route 27. If that’s not a metaphor for life, I don’t know what is. 

Traveling through time these last couple of weeks has taught me I wouldn’t have traded any of it away (except for maybe the knee stuff).

Time travel is so often depicted in TV, movies, comic books, and other pop culture media as the physical passage through time and space. But I can tell you from experience there’s a figurative way to do it, too, and the effect is personally profound. Return to someplace you used to be a long time ago, and let the reflection begin.


The Star’s editorial staff happily welcomed Christine Sampson back into the fold on May 23. Ed.