Have you ever felt as if you are no longer in the present, standing somewhere that has a look and feel to it that could be 1909 instead of 2009? Probably not, but it kind of happened to me twice on the same day. First as I was biking with my boss back from a meeting, we stopped at a coffee shop on Occidental Street in Pioneer Square to get some coffee. For those of you not familiar with Occidental Street, it’s a brick street lined with huge sycamore trees and old brick buildings. It’s opened to only bicycles and pedestrians. All of these factors combine to give these two blocks a look and feel of about a century earlier. As I was standing there on the street with the sun trickling through the trees I had a strange feeling that I could almost feel the past. Not that I know what the past feels like but it was a feeling where I felt that not much had really changed at that Occidental Street location in over a 100 years, and the people walking, sitting and talking, just going about their business haven’t changed much either. As I stood there by myself on a sunny afternoon as the world and time passed by ,it was only a brief moment that I felt it. I wasn’t transported or anything, just that the past seemed nearly palpable.
The second out of time experience occurred on my bus ride home and was entirely different from Occidental Street incident. I was listening to an instrumental from Dead Mellotron that kind of put me in this sublimely weird trance. As the song finished, I came to and looked around on the crowded bus. The sun shining through the windows created an effect giving me the sense that the bus was from the 1940’s or 1950’s. I figure that people back then had to deal with the same uncomfortable seats and lack of air conditioning as we do today. We were stopped in traffic, and it oddly did not feel like my normal bus, but a bus that had people on it from some other time and place. Again, no one was wearing period dress, they just had strange timeless looks about them. A guy across from me had fallen asleep reading a book, the girl next to me had dozed off as well. Some people just stared expressionless like they do in those old black and white photos where you had to keep very still or the photo would become blurred. I hit repeat on my mp3 player to listen to the song again to try and repeat the entire experience, but to no avail. The bus came to its first stop and people got off and new ones got on, but the new people looked rather of the present day.
A few years ago I read two books by Jack Finney called Time and Again, and From Time to Time which are about a government project that has figured out how to travel back in time. There’s no use of a time machine, or any other high tech methods. The way to travel back in time was to immerse oneself into the culture of the period to which is your destination. Essentially it is a mental trick of transporting oneself back in time. My mind was probably just off doing its own peculiar thing since I was probably suffering from lack of sleep and getting over this weird cold I had earlier in the week, but it’s always fun to wonder, what if?