Peeling Away the Layers of Time

Have you ever noticed when a building or business in your neighborhood has just been torn down, you can’t seem to remember what was there a moment ago? A dry cleaner? A jewelry store? A hair salon? Even though you drive past that corner every single day, now it’s just an empty lot. However, if you travel back to a favorite spot from your childhood, you can easily picture every business on every corner.

This past weekend, my wife and I rented a tiny cottage on Clark Lake, in Irish Hills, Michigan. We were there for a family reunion my brother was hosting at his cottage across the lake. I mixed up the days and wound up missing most of the folks. I’m sure I’ll catch up with them all at Christmastime. Anyway, my wife and I wound up going out to dinner at the Beach Bar. For me, that place is in a time bubble. Not much has changed since my family used to go there over 50 years ago. On the way back to our tiny cottage, we passed a market named Mugsy’s. I told my wife it used to be called the Town & Country.

That reminded me of a wonderful sensation I always have whenever I visit this area. It seems like the layers of time peel away as I drive through “town”. I point out a cottage our family always rented when we were kids. How my mom and dad ever fit four kids and a dog in there I’ll never know. A chalet-style cottage across the street from my brother’s place used to be painted a nice redwood color and is now a dull gray. I have always been fascinated with the concept of time travel. Now it occurs to me that we all carry a time machine with us. All you need to do is visit a well-loved place from your youth to access it. Suddenly you’re back at the Town & Country, with some pocket change in your sweaty little hand, ready to buy some penny candy.

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