Time Machine Beta
My pilgrimage back to Charleston after 8 years away.
Earlier this month I was invited to participate in JetBlue’s Time Machine beta program. “Pick a place, pick a time, don’t spend a dime,” the ad man said.
I chose to be teleported back to Charleston, South Carolina for a weekend. JetBlue promised I would relive my youth.
I lived in Charleston from 2013 to 2015 and moved there specifically to work with the folks at Fuzzco. I moved with two weeks’ notice before I could even point the place out on a map.
Upon arrival I was pleasantly surprised to find a picturesque port city nestled along the Atlantic coastline. I legit thought Charleston was in West Virginia? Maybe there’s one there, too.
My two years in Charleston were so magical! But like any good spell, there were several ingredients. There was the food, the ocean, the time, the work, the people, the place. It was my first real job working on big important projects. It was also that quiet era when Obama was president and before BuzzFeed decided they were a serious news organization. If I were to describe that time in one word, I’d have to pick “simple”.
We all long for a simpler time, but the only thing simple about the past is that it isn’t right now and it isn’t in the future. It’s simple because it exists as a memory. All the problems have already been worked out and all the outcomes are known.
It took me 8 years to return to Charleston because I was nervous about breaking the spell it had placed on me. I was worried going back would make me see it for what it was — a place with pros and cons like any other.
To some degree, my fears were valid.
As I was retracing my steps, the spell was broken, but the memory was not. It turns out seeing something for what it is doesn’t invalidate what it was.
The next time I’m playing “Would You Rather” and someone asks, “would you rather go back in time or skip ahead to the future?” I’ll definitely still say “neither”. But I’ll laugh to myself knowing I’ve already been in a time machine and all it did was drop me back on the tarmac at JFK Terminal 5.