DIY: Time capsule

Sherri Levesque puts time in a bottle. Or cookie tin.

Time and I have a complicated relationship.

I’m never on it. It heals all wounds, but it waits for no one. It flies as soon as I start having fun. It starts to get huffy when I try to manage it. It throws a temper tantrum when I try to spend it wisely. But all in all, time has been on my side.
Flashback to 1991: Miss Long’s Grade 5 homeroom.

Operation: Time Capsule.

First mission: To find the perfect container to store our treasure.

The search was on. People brought in salt beef buckets and Eversweet margarine tubs. Others wanted to try specialty make-up cases. Some would-be capsules were too big, some were too small, some still smelled like salt beef. All 24 of us raided our family homes for the perfect treasure chest. And it finally came in the form of a cookie tin. This tin would hold letters to our future selves, sacrificial New Kids on the Block trading cards, and the promise that in 10 years we’d reunite to open the capsule.

Sealing the tin in duct tape, we marked it: Do Not Open Until March 2001. Then we ceremoniously lowered it into the bowels of the earth where it would patiently wait for us to grow up. We joked how some construction worker hundreds of years in the future would find it and get rich from our knick-knacks.

Well time flies when you’re having fun. 10 years whizzed by and we managed to round up 15 of the 24 time capsule contributors. For some of us it was the first time seeing each other since high school. A few who were away called to say they wished they could be there.

We found the spot and dug it up. Inside the capsule we found old grocery fliers, stamps and a copy of the school newsletter. We compared the cost of milk – $1.99 to $2.99. Gas prices had tripled. And none of us arrived to the reunion via hoverboard like we predicted. But we were old enough for a glass of wine and to celebrate each other as adults.

One by one we read the letters aloud. Some letters were to the world:

“Hi! It’s me. I have 2 brothers who like to pick on me and a dog named Nikko – he’s my best friend. I like to play Barbies and collect stickers. I don’t like math. What’s it like in 2001? Well, see you soon – or not.”

Mine had a more personal tone:

“Dear Future Me, I hope you, I mean me—we, are living in Hollywood as a famous movie star and still doing live theatre to keep us humble. I also hope you learned how to sing by now. And that you are very happy with a cute husband and two kids and have already traveled the world at least once. And world peace would be nice. I’ll tell Buffy you love him. Love, Me.”

My 10-year-old self figured I would have lost Buffy my favorite teddy bear but I showed her.

In your face, younger me!

It was enchanting, reminiscing together. By way of this one cookie tin we were ginger-snapped back ten years. For some a handwritten letter, or a favorite scratch n’ sniff was the catalyst. Others were lost in the photos.

I won’t tell you your time capsule should have copies of The Scope in it. Nor will I tell you to bury it under a landmark, or to make sure your container is weather-proof and paper acid-free.

But I will ask this: What is unique about right now? Are you making a capsule for an anonymous passerby, or to revisit yourself? What do you feel should be preserved?

As they’ve said on Star Trek: “Time is a companion that goes with us on a journey. It reminds us to cherish each moment, because it will never come again. What we leave behind is not as important as how we have lived.”
So long, until some other time. And good luck in the future.

Illustration by Kira Sheppard.

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27 August 2013

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