There is a passage in The English Patient in which Almasy talks about how a lover wants to be a historian; he wants essentially to time travel and always be with his beloved Katherine.
When I started reading Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife, I thought about Almasy’s musings, about the idea that lovers want to be historians of each other, and always be part of their beloved’s life. It’s what the novel’s Henry DeTamble is able to do because of a genetic disorder that causes him to time travel, although Niffenegger, in an interview here explains she had not considered that people actually want to live in their lover’s past, and was astonished to hear just such a longing was common.
As I’ve read the novel I’ve also pondered the possibility of time travel. Almost since we’ve known each other, my wife and I have wondered what it would be like if we had somehow met 14 years earlier, before she met her ex-husband. Would it change the present? Would we be attracted to each other then? And how would we have managed to coordinate it since we were, at the time, living in cities hundreds of miles apart? What would have directed me to her? Perhaps like Henry in the novel I would have the capability of meeting myself in the past or future, and telling myself the details I needed to know.
Of course the complications of time travel are numerous, most of which deal with the alteration of the past or future by the traveler. Can one adjustment twist the whole universe out of order? Would it be worth the risk?
So, would you time travel?
Editor’s Note: This post has been written as part of Sunday Salon.