You Never Know When You Might Come Across a Time Travel Portal

View of historic buildings through a window

I had a class last night. We were in a room at the uni that I hadn’t been in before. The picture above is the view from where I sat. I was struck by the contrast of old and new; the modern(ish) classroom, with the glimpse of history just outside. I imagined that the window was a portal to the past; I could simply step through and would find myself in some oldy worldy historical times of yore (I’m not very good with history, so don’t push me on dates). Some might say I should have been concentrating on class rather than imagining the window as a time travel portal, but I say – where’s their spirit of adventure?

Maybe I would come across Shakespeare suffering from writer’s block, I could tell him about the future and his block would be instantly unblocked. I’ve always thought he missed a trick by not writing about time travel. Who doesn’t love time travel stories right? I’ve seen Back to The Future, so I know you’re not supposed to change anything if you go back to the past, but surely the addition of one little time travel play amongst all of Shakespeare’s works isn’t going to upset the space-time continuum too much is it? I’m pretty sure generations of school children would thank me.

Or if not Shakespeare, maybe I could help some peasants with their revolting. If I brought some IT equipment through with me, I could produce some posters which I think would help them get their message across much more effectively. (What do you mean the building on the left doesn’t quite fit with revolting peasant times? Stop trying to ruin my adventure!). Or maybe there will be a princess that needs rescuing, I can totally help with that, I’ve seen Disney films, I know what to do. And then if the princess wanted to let me try on some of her dresses afterwards to express her gratitude, well, it would be rude to refuse.

I asked my classmate sitting next to me what she could see out of that window, I asked if she could see the time travel portal too, or whether I was the only special privileged one. I wondered if she would tell me that all she could see was a modern office block and some cars. She didn’t answer though, she just gathered up her books and moved to another desk. Some people are so strange.

Given a choice though, I’d probably rather have a portal to the future. We already know  a lot about the past, but we don’t have a clue about the future. I’d like to see what we’ve made of ourselves and the world around us in the near future: 25, 50, 100 years from now. I daren’t go too far into the future because there might be nothing left to go to, and then I might not be able to get back, I don’t really know how it all works, but I’d better play it safe. Maybe next week’s classroom window will have a portal to the future, and then I’ll be able to find out, in my imagination at least…

If you came across a time travel portal, would you choose to go forwards or backwards? What would you like to see? Do you wish Shakespeare had written about time travel? And do you think a princess would consider a pair of jeans to be a fair swap for one of her dresses?

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71 responses to “You Never Know When You Might Come Across a Time Travel Portal

  1. I would do the time travel portal! Lucky you to have a view like that.

    I don’t know if I’d go forward or backward in time. There are some periods of history I’d like to see (Civil War, WWII, medieval history), but going forward would be fun too. I’d be able to see what’s coming up in the future.

    Shakespeare and time travel…..hmmmm….that could be interesting. Especially if he put it into 12th Night. with all the confusion about the twins going around.

    Any self-respecting Disney princess would want jeans. Taking care not to mess up all those fancy dresses must get tiresome at times.

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    • Yes, it would certainly be interesting to view some of the history we know about, but I think curiosity about the future would win for me!

      I was trying here to think of a clever play on words with 12th Night to turn it a time travel story…”Back to 12th Night Again”? Hmmm, something like that.

      Ok, I’d better check if the princess is self-respecting before doing the jeans swap.

      Thank you for answering all my questions! :)

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  2. Easy, I’d go back to where I originally came from … They must be wondering where I’ve been by now.

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  3. Wow, if I had that view in my classes I would never pay attention. I would definitely go back in the past. Probably the late 1800s. (my daughter and I are reading all the Little House on the Prairie books now)

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  4. What a fun post. Loved it!

    Hmm, go back in time or forward? That’s a tough one. Assuming I could get back–otherwise I wouldn’t go at all–I might go back in time to when my grandparents were young to see what they were like. The future is tempting, but I’d be afraid I’d end up learning my germline no longer exists. That would suck.

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    • Thanks Carrie. Yes, we must assume we can come back, otherwise it’s a whole other kind of decision! Interesting that your view on past of future would be directly linked to you, your grandparents as youngsters (that would be lovely), or your own germline. I was thinking of it more as generally seeing what was going on, forwards or backwards, rather than specifically relating to me. Your way, the future would definitely be potentially scary to see!

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      • If I didn’t know what had become of me or my family, then I would choose to go forward. Would be pretty cool to see what becomes of this world in a couple hundred years. Or, as you mention, scary.

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  5. The first thing that pic brought to mind was an Edward Hopper painting. Something about the angle of the roofs and the light.

    What class, pray tell, were you supposed to be paying attention to?

    If you arrived through a time portal with some IT equipment, you’d more likely than not have burned at the stake.

    A Shakespeare time travel play would have been completely inappropriate. Sorry. I just can’t see it. I’d take a trip back to September and have a second helping at the dinner my wife and I had at the Culinary Institute in California. I kinda wish I’d done that when I was there.

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    • The class was about how education systems around the world are used to shape/reinforce people’s national identity. It’s part of my MA Education, and it was actually really interesting. I was in fact the first to arrive in the classroom and had time to photograph and imagine before anyone arrived!

      Ok, well if I get to see Shakespeare, I’ll keep in mind that you don’t like the idea of him writing a time travel play.

      So a short trip back in time to re-experience a good dinner; or maybe you could just go back there anyway and have another dinner in this time?

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  6. I think the princess would adore those jeans once she got over the fact that a girl could wear them without mortifying the rest of the world. I would love a time portal to the future to see how language changes in 100 years or so.

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    • Yes, that would be interesting, language seems to change quite quickly these days, certainly in terms of new words that become proper words in short spaces of time, I’m sure in 100 years we would struggle at times to understand what they were talking about!

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  7. I would love to travel to the future, but of course only if I wouldn’t age in the process and I had a guarantee I’d make my way back here.
    By all means give the princess a great pair of jeans. She’ll be in your debt forever. Your debt! Hmm. Talk about prospects. :-D

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  8. Maybe your classmate is secretly a time traveler, and is upset you found her portal?
    It’s always nice to have a view to inspire some day dreaming.
    As for Shakespeare, would the witches predicting the future in Macbeth count for time travel?

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  9. I could totally see a princess thinking a pair of jeans would be a fair swap. I would definitely go back in time just to trade in my jeans for one of those dresses. Hmm. Which dress… Belle would be out, as yellow is not my color. I could probably get away with pink, no blue, pink! No blue!

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  11. How old are you?

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  12. Yes, I think I would do the time travel portal — though I would definitely go forward so as not to mess with my present, which overall, I’m pretty happy with.

    Also by going into the future I could do what Biff did in Back to the Future Part II; I’d find out who won a few sporting events and make some serious moolah. Unlike Biff, I promise to spend my winnings wisely and compassionately because, you know, I’m not evil.

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  13. I’d go forward I’m inquisitive to see what the future holds…

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  14. I’d go backwards to visit those who have transformed society … Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Martin Luther, Constantine, & Galileo (to name a few).

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  15. Love the idea of checking out the future, although I’m afraid of what we would find. My son and I had a conversation last night about wormholes and how he was going to design an iPhone app that could direct a wormhole where to drop you off after you stepped into it. I’ll keep you posted on his progress. I’m thinking he’s got some design work that could take awhile. Happy trails!

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  16. I think I would like to go to the past to meet my grandparents who passed away when my Dad was a child. I have so many questions for them that no matter how much research is done the answers will not be found.
    I cant imagine why your class mate moved when you asked is she could see the time portal? :)

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    • I’m finding it very interesting to see whether people choose forwards or backwards and what their reasons are. I can totally see why you picked what you picked.

      Re my classmate – I know right? What’s that all about?!

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  17. You have a great imagination,Vanessa! Definitely, I would like to go into the future. Do I dare? I’ll admit, it seems exciting but a little scary. Or, maybe I wouldn’t want to go back.

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  18. Hahaha you’re so fun. I don’t know if I’d opt for past or future– I feel like the future has so much “unknown” about it that you’d likely be wandering about penniless and ignorant. But the past… you could enact some sort of Wizard of Oz scenario and dazzle them all. But it really does sound exhausting. I think I’d just like to teleport around our current time and space.

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    • Thanks Aussa. I think maybe it might better to go forwards or backwards in a kind of fly-on-the-wall way, so that you can just observe but not affect, or be affected by anything, that would maybe be safer – although perhaps not as fun!

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  19. Sounds like somebody needed a better lecturer that day. ;)

    The mysteries of time travel are a lot like those related to space travel: intriguing but also scary. What are all the possibilities? What could we see? What could we change? Could we make it back all right and in one piece? If we travel with a Doctor (Who or Brown, say), we’ve got a kind companion/guide who’ll look out for us. But if we go it alone, what if we run into a deadly dinosaur or Morlock?

    I like to think I’d use time travel in a good way, like Dr. Sam Beckett did: helping the lesser people through time find their ways. I don’t think I’m save-the-universe material, LOL! But, you know, if I could help a more likely time traveler do that – like Dr. Vanessa Chapman – I could get behind that. :)

    I’d say I hope you have a more focused class next time…but then we might not be given more possibilities like this post.

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    • Ha! No I actually arrived in class before anyone else, so took that photo and did most of that imagining before anyone else arrived! The class itself was very interesting, and might in itself stimulate a future post!

      Yes, time and space is very mind blowing isn’t it, the concept of traveling through them in any way, and you’re right, we should have a companion who knows what they’re doing to minimise the risks.

      I’m not sure I’m a more likely time traveler but if we’re going for titles, I’ve always fancied Professor Vanessa :)

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  20. I wouldn’t mind going forwards, as long as I could immediately go backwards to fix whatever needed fixing (there will always be something that needs fixing). But speaking of time portals – I have a memory burned in my brain of a hotel I once stayed at. It was like stepping back in time – complete with sexist bar tender, hooker in the back room, and 80 year old housekeeper who woke everyone up at the crack of dawn and cooked and served them breakfast in a kitchen with a long dining table, like in Downton Abbey. It was so weird. I went back to that hotel some years later, and it was totally different. All modernised and full of swank.

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    • Oh gosh that sounds like quite a hotel!…or quite a portal you went through :) Mind you, I think there are hotels in England still like that now! It’s totally mind blowing to think of time travel in any direction isn’t it. I wonder if we would actually take up the opportunity if it was really presented to us, or if it would just be too scary.

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  21. I think I’d go back far enough in time to be able to buy the house I grew up in, which we were evicted from, so I could be there now xx

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    • Hi Gab, nice to see you popping back up when you can! I saw you posted something earlier, I will read that tomorrow. That’s a nice reason for going back, as long as you’re sure it won’t upset the space-time continuum? Which it could do because whoever actually lived there after you were evicted would have ended up living somewhere else instead, and whoever actually lived in the somewhere else would have ended up somewhere else, and…

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  22. What a fun post! When I was a kid my favorite TV show was called Time Tunnel. It was very corny and not very well written but I loved imagining what it would be like to go back and visit pivotal points in history. The future might be kind of scary and depressing, but perhaps I might be pleasantly surprised!

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    • Thanks Naomi. It’s the unknown that makes time travel into the future both exciting and scary isn’t it! If I go, I’ll be sure to let everyone know whether they should bother going to, or just be happy where they are :)

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  23. This is an interesting picture. I wouldn’t want to time travel. I have a difficult enough time trying to understand the present moment! ;)

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  24. Can I make multiple trips in both directions? As an archaeologist, I’d love to see the people who actually lived at the sites I’ve worked on. What were they doing? Saying? Feeling? And I’d like to meet up with my GGGG grandfather McDowell and ask him who the heck his parents are! He has been a brick wall for me for years.

    Then I’d like to see the future, but it would be depressing if I learned we really don’t have one…. Hmm. That could be a tough one….

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    • I’m not the boss of the portals, so I don’t think it’s up to me to decide whether you can make multiple trips, I say fill out the request form and see what happens!

      Yes, that’s why I didn’t want to go too far into the future, there might be nothing to find.

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  25. In my book I went backward in time, but the idea of seeing what the future holds would be mighty strong! Given the choice though, being the meddler I am, I’d probably go back to see what changes I could make… again!

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