The Time Machine

Tomorrow I will be traveling in a time machine.  No, not the kind you might find in an episode of The Twilight Zone or in the pages of Ray Bradbury or H.G. Wells–but a time machine, nonetheless . . .



For many years now, I have taken the drive from Vermont, where I currently live, “back home” to Rochester, New York, for Labor Day weekend.  It’s always nice to visit family and old friends.  My parents still live in the same house where I grew up.  Sometimes, at night, when they’re asleep, I will walk through the old house, head down into the basement, where I spent a lot of time when I was a kid, keeping cool on hot summer afternoons.  Mostly, though, I’ll pause, listen, listen–until I hear them.  The echoes of the past.  Memories upon memories built within those walls, living things, so near it often feels I could reach out and grab a whisper of 1985, inhale it, and be a boy again.



After I arrive and get settled in tomorrow, some old, old friends will stop by, and we’ll re-create various elements of our childhood.  You probably don’t know these friends of mine “for real,” but you may know them in another way.  You see, the main characters of The Eye-Dancers were modeled after several of the friends I’ll be visiting with.  The characters in the book, of course, took on a life of their own–it’s not a one-for-one match.  But the friends I grew up with definitely were the primary inspirations for the protagonists in the novel.   “Joe” will be there tomorrow, “Mitchell” and “Ryan,” too–even supporting characters like “Tyler” (“Ryan’s” brother in the novel) and “Grronk.”  Our friendship goes way back, to the days before the Internet and email and cell phones.



The Eye-Dancers is, in many ways, a tribute to our childhood, the adventures we shared, the conversations we would have, the things we would wonder about.  Some of our old “in” jokes made their way into the novel.  Some pet phrases and favorite expressions did, as well.  More than anything, I hope, the spirit and curiosity of childhood, the quest to know and learn and discover, made their way into the book, too.

There will be a special quality to our get-together on Friday.  There always is, every year we meet like this.  We reenact some of the old childhood games.  We talk about the past.  We act like kids, even if for only one night out of the year.  For a moment, on an end-of-summer evening, as the days grow shorter and the first subtle hints of autumn manifest themselves in ways so quiet, so soft-spoken, you will miss them if you’re not looking, we are twelve years old again, running, and playing, and laughing like we used to.  The kind of experience that inspires novels, indeed . . .



It strikes me as fitting that this nostalgic weekend falls at the end of August.  Summer’s end in the Northeastern United States has always been one of my favorite times of the year.  The oppressive heat and humidity that sometimes weighs down June and July days is, for the most part, gone now, blown to lands far to the south.  The angle of the sun is noticeably lower, as darkness falls an hour earlier than it did during the height of summer.  Long shadows filter through the trees, lingering, not in any hurry to leave.



There is an easy comfort in the air, the sunshine languorous, the breeze a soft kiss upon your cheeks.  It feels as though Time itself, tired of being perpetually on the go, has decided to take a moment to relax on the back porch, sipping a glass of cold lemonade, and just rest for a while.



Sunflowers dance and bob in the wind.



Fields of goldenrod carpet the land.



Farewell-summers and marigolds and rows upon rows of corn stalks, six feet tall, whisper a fond good-bye to the heat and a subdued hello to the chill of the coming fall.  It is a quiet time, a time for memories and stories and old friends reliving the days of their youth.  For me, it is an especially creative season.  When I began writing The Eye-Dancers, it was evening on a late-summer day, with the light fading, the shadows slowly spreading across the lawn.  A plump woodchuck waddled through the yard.  A hummingbird filled up on sugar-water at our feeder, preparing for the long migration south in just a week or two.



Looking at it all, I felt ready.  I knew I had a story to tell.  I knew I needed to share it.

So, to my friends, my lifelong friends, who I grew up with and  will see tomorrow–thanks, guys.  If it weren’t for you, The Eye-Dancers wouldn’t exist.  And for one weekend each year, you remind me why I wrote the novel . . .

  • The universe is full of questions we often do not even ask, let alone answer.
  • Friendship, especially a friendship forged in childhood, is a special and life-affirming gift.
  • An open mind is a mind able to learn and discover and ask the question, “Why?” and then be receptive to the answer.
  • And if we want it to, if we cultivate it, nurture it, and never stop believing, the magic we knew and wished upon when we were kids still exists, even into adulthood.




And to all of you in the wonderful WordPress community, I thank you so much for reading!


80 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Barbara Monier
    Aug 29, 2013 @ 16:44:19



  2. merrildsmith
    Aug 29, 2013 @ 16:54:48

    How wonderful that you still have your boyhood friends and home–and that you can still find the magic of childhood. Enjoy your vacation.


  3. Katie Sullivan
    Aug 29, 2013 @ 17:16:20

    Enjoy your ‘time travel,’ Mike. I really enjoyed this post, too. It elicits such a lovely feeling of nostalgia and wonder.


  4. Sherri
    Aug 29, 2013 @ 17:22:56

    This is true ‘Americana’ to me! I used to love Labor Day when I lived in the States, you describe the change in the seasons so eloquently. What wonderful childhood memories you have Mike. Wishing you, your family and friends a wonderful Labor Day weekend 🙂


  5. readinpleasure
    Aug 29, 2013 @ 17:34:19

    I love the photos. 🙂 Enjoy the travel 🙂


  6. lisajohnsonsawyer
    Aug 29, 2013 @ 18:02:34

    Enjoy the holiday and the weekend! safe travels to you and yours!


  7. Ste J
    Aug 29, 2013 @ 18:16:46

    It all sounds like a reverse coming of age story…I like it.


  8. jenniferkmarsh
    Aug 29, 2013 @ 18:36:16

    I loved this! There is definitely something special about autumn approaching. It’s often like the mists in the air softly call to you, luring you into the memory of a bygone time!

    There is always magic around, but as adults, I believe we just suppress it because it’s a “childish” concept. But it certainly isn’t – especially for writers! And the magic that surrounds childhood friendships is arguably the most precious of them all 🙂

    Have a great time with your family and friends!


  9. ptero9
    Aug 29, 2013 @ 18:45:24

    This is a lovely piece on your friendships, home and childhood that really resonates with me. Thanks for sharing yourself and your memories with us here! Enjoy your vacation!!!


  10. Charlene Woodley
    Aug 29, 2013 @ 19:48:44

    What a soothing read and a wonderful life – enjoy! 🙂


  11. mcwoman
    Aug 29, 2013 @ 20:10:44

    I’m surprised that you can still “go home.” I’m happy for you so little has changed and you are filled with memories of happy days. Happy Labor Day!


    • The Eye-Dancers
      Aug 29, 2013 @ 20:15:39

      Thanks! And yes–I am very fortunate to have had a great childhood and that so many of my old friends are still there . . . It’s a rare thing, and I am very grateful for it.


  12. Sue Dreamwalker
    Aug 29, 2013 @ 20:23:51

    Never stop believing in the Magic, both of Mother Nature and the inspiration you receive,
    Love and Blessings I so enjoyed this post 🙂 xox


  13. words4jp
    Aug 29, 2013 @ 22:14:11

    Gorgeous. 😉


  14. tonyroberts64
    Aug 30, 2013 @ 00:18:03

    Have a wonderful time in Rochester. I hope to be there in early October.


  15. jjspina
    Aug 30, 2013 @ 02:22:42

    Beautifully written as always, Mike. I love autumn. I find it a magical season too. It is a time to return to your roots for quieter and more contemplative moments. We are in essence preparing our minds and bodies for the winter weather ahead.


  16. Christy Birmingham
    Aug 30, 2013 @ 03:08:25

    What a heart-warming post! I hope you have a great weekend (and fun reenacting those games too!)


  17. teagan geneviene
    Aug 30, 2013 @ 12:57:00

    Thanks for the “3 minute vacation.” The pictures were nice. I like how you used links and made the post into something that told about your characters.


  18. BroadBlogs
    Aug 30, 2013 @ 17:15:25

    How lucky to be able to return to your childhood home which was so idyllic. My childhood homes are all sold off and my memories somewhat less idyllic — though I do have some very nice ones.


  19. Carol Wuenschell
    Aug 30, 2013 @ 19:55:22

    A really lovely piece. thanks.


  20. lolarugula
    Aug 31, 2013 @ 14:52:25

    What a wonderful post – it sounds like you’ll be having a great weekend and I hope you enjoy it! 🙂


  21. Kevin Daniel
    Aug 31, 2013 @ 15:38:44

    Just moved to Rochester and found your post through that tag. I’m falling in-love with the area (yes, I know it hasn’t snowed yet). Hope you have a great weekend.


  22. insearchofitall
    Sep 01, 2013 @ 03:00:03

    Always such lovely writing. I am deeply envious of your ability to time travel. BTW, I thoroughly enjoyed the book. I’m curious if the band of friends will have other time traveling adventures. Hope you enjoy your weekend.


  23. WordsFallFromMyEyes
    Sep 01, 2013 @ 10:15:59

    Love the way you expressed this. We don’t have a lot of basements in Australia – not the usual – but I could just imagine long boy days down there. But loved how you spoke of the memories & grabbing a whisper of 1985.

    I bet your friends love being the inspiration for characters in The Eye-Dancers – that’s so cool!

    Love the photos of goldenrod & sunflowers. Oh Michael, this sounds so magic.


  24. stockdalewolfe
    Sep 01, 2013 @ 13:16:43

    A fantastic post– beautiful thoughts, words and photos. This is my favorite post of yours and I look forward to seeing more. Excellent writing, emotion and visuals.


  25. saminaiqbal27
    Sep 02, 2013 @ 03:57:51

    Excellent Post. So touching and full of emotion. Thanks for sharing with us and hope you have a lovely labor day weekend with your friends and family.


  26. Violet Wave
    Sep 02, 2013 @ 05:22:21

    Haio my friend, i have nominated you for the Liebster Award (^~^)
    thanx for your great work d=(*^ワ^*)=b
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  27. stormy1812
    Sep 02, 2013 @ 23:50:55

    love this! i hope your time at home was as magical as you hoped. it just totally made me think of “stand by me” – one of my all-time favorite movies and the line at the end by the “writer” about having the best friends at age 12. so fantastic! i tend to love nostalgia myself. what a great way to find a smile when you need one. 🙂 hope your labor day weekend was awesome!


  28. Sheryl Wright Stinchcum
    Sep 04, 2013 @ 14:26:33

    Thank you for sharing how your friends and memories influenced “The Eye-Dancers.” What a fabulous weekend you all must have had reminiscing!


  29. honeydidyouseethat?
    Sep 04, 2013 @ 20:43:53

    Now that would be an interesting read, the gang all grown up.


  30. FreeRangeCow
    Sep 04, 2013 @ 20:58:50

    Dreamy! If you don’t mind sharing, what is it like going to the home your folks had you in as a child?


    • The Eye-Dancers
      Sep 05, 2013 @ 18:59:13

      Thanks! “Dreamy” is a good thing.:) Going “back home” is always nice. It is in many ways like going back in time. It is very rare, I know, to live in the same house growing up, year after year. Even more remarkable–my parents’ next-door neighbors have also lived in their house for decades. Same thing with the neighbors across the street. It is not easy finding that kind of stability anymore. I was very blessed to have that. The rooms in my parents’ house really speak to me . . . it is so easy to remember being a child when I’m there.


  31. Kavita Joshi
    Sep 05, 2013 @ 00:38:25

    wow…wonderful and creative post this is….u are so creative and talented dear..keep it up 🙂 How have you been?


  32. Fashion Mayann
    Sep 05, 2013 @ 05:54:16

    Thank you so much for such a beautiful trip to memory lane ! You’re very lucky to be able to visit the home where you grew up …


  33. eemoxam
    Sep 05, 2013 @ 19:46:33

    I hope you had a great trip! I also went ‘home’ for a holiday this year and loved every minute of it. Great blog, I just love your comment about bringing magic into adulthood, I was thinking of that just the other day. When do we stop believing in magic, and why? I’m glad I’m not the only one, it’s there if you look for it.


    Sep 05, 2013 @ 20:47:30

    Your post are always a treat them all, lovely !


  35. Jilanne Hoffmann
    Sep 06, 2013 @ 04:43:44

    It must be nice to have those friends to return to. I don’t have any in my hometown. Hope you had fun!


  36. Minister Gertrude Ferguson - Founder & CEO- Enough Tribulations
    Sep 10, 2013 @ 23:40:08

    “The Eye-Dancers” reminisces on past childhood memories, which can be so refreshing and exciting. Your generation will have a memory filled time, as your story lives on. Great job!


  37. mlhe
    Sep 12, 2013 @ 04:08:51

    Time travel–so underrated! Great post!


  38. ampbreia4EverMore
    Sep 12, 2013 @ 13:19:43

    How nice that you can still get in touch with your childhood friends and even spend the last days of summer at play together as you used to. I’ve lost track of all my childhood. I hope you fully appreciate the blessing you have in them. It sounds like you do.


  39. lscotthoughts
    Sep 24, 2013 @ 14:20:22

    Wonderful post and awesome photos, taking us all back in time! And thank you for all of your visits to my blog, too! I’m always slow in visiting, but I make it, eventually! 🙂


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