Sunday, August 24, 2014

Prompt: Cloning, temporal discontinuity, and geographical affinity

I’m journaling tonight, but I challenge you to use one or more of these as prompts.

“She’s your clone!” I’ve heard it for the past fourteen years. Daughter looks more than a little bit like me. Behaves more than a little bit like me. Shares more than a few of the same interests and passions. But make no mistake, she is not me. She is entirely her own person. Sometimes we get along great together. Sometimes not. I did mention she is fourteen?

Story idea:
It seems obvious to me. The clone who struggles to find her own identity. Calling into question pre-determination, nature vs nurture, and the very fundamental question of Self. These are the questions explored so beautifully by the non-human characters in various Star Trek incarnations, notably Spock in TOS, the Doctor in Voyager, and Data in TNG.

We went to New York this past weekend. This was a Very Big Deal for many reasons. But a few things struck me as we walked around Times Square and the Theater District, hiked down 9th Ave before midnight and back up 8th after. I suffer from temporal discontinuity. I see things with the memory of my younger self, my college self, running around these streets day and night with my best friends, seeking out museums, photo opps, bars and clubs. I see Daughter’s wide-eyed wonder (which she plays oh-so-cool and close to the vest – more McGraw even than I), drinking in every sight, smell and sound, every step of the way. And I see the city with the guarded, tense concern of a protective mother walking with her beautiful child. Not such a child any more, but growing into a beautiful young woman who is beginning to attract attention. Look away, look away, before I have to hurt you, growls the mother tiger.

Story idea:
Time travel within one’s own life. So many directions to go with that. Can you effect change? What happens to your future? I found that when Daughter was born, so much regret simply disappeared, because every step of my life led to her. Since then, there may be a few regrets. What would I change if I could. Personal, or larger scale? Could I make the world a better place? At what cost? I’m reminded of an excellent Voyager episode where they are caught in temporal loops that turn out to be the doing of a man simply trying to get back to a reality in which his family still lives.

Ah, geographical affinity. Love of place. Daughter experienced it in New York. All weekend, she proclaimed she would be leaving a little piece of her heart behind when we boarded the plane for home. She is already talking about going to college, living and working in the Big Apple. And she claims she will never feel this way about another city. To which I say I hope not, because the world’s a mighty big place, with lots of wonderful cities, towns, open spaces and more to fall in love with. In City of Joy, a privileged Miami doctor goes to the worst slum in Calcutta and finds the place he belongs. My niece is in her second year serving in the Peace Corps in Africa, and despite many challenges, deprivations, and dangers, is considering a third year. Her mother wants her “safe” at home.

I felt a love for the city of Boston from the first time I visited, interviewing for a summer job during college. I *like* New York, but I *love* Boston. When I first went to San Francisco, years later, several people told me, “Oh, you like Boston, you’ll love San Fran – they’re a lot alike.” I *liked* San Fran just fine, but I didn’t love it. And that made me sad, because it made me question my love for Boston, having moved away several years earlier. I thought I remembered that instant love with rose-colored glasses, that it must have grown over time, as I walked all over the city and came to know it so well. Until I went to Seattle. And Portland. I felt that same sense of connection in both cities, and I was giddy with excitement, not only for the way I enjoyed them, but because it told me I hadn’t been wrong. I *had* felt that way about Boston, and that “love of place” was a very real thing.

And I just had an epiphany. I’m not living in a place I *love*. I *like* where I am, and I know it well, and it’s comfortable, and it has a lot to offer. But I have never felt that *love* I felt for Boston, or Seattle, or Portland, or a few other places. And I’m going to need to think about that. I might journal about it here. Later.

Story idea:
Someone who’s lost the place where they felt that geographical affinity, that “love of place” – due to war or disaster – and is searching for a new place where they feel that same connection. I’m thinking galactic nomad. Hmm….I might even know who that character is. I started writing her story awhile ago. I just didn’t know this about her. Oh, Siena….

So there you have it. Three ideas, three prompts, three themes. Cloning and time travel are classic tropes of science fiction, and yet there are still fresh, new stories being told, waiting to be told. Is one of them mine? Yours? Let me know if this sparks something for you, fellow writer!

And so, with a loving heart, I offer you
I’ve heard many translations. Here’s one I love:
The light of the universe that shines within me recognizes
the light of the universe that shines within you.

Time writing
~75 minutes

August word count


  1. Time travel, you ask? Where would I go? What would I do when I got there? Well let me tell you what I did.

    I went back to late summer 1987. Scant weeks since I’d turned seventeen and mere days before my “Lucky” rabbit’s foot—bestowed upon me by friends on my High School Varsity Swim Team for breaking, not one, but two, different parts of the same foot within an eight week period—disappeared under mysterious circumstances.

    On that day, I was standing on my friend’s driveway. Ok, I was actually straddling my twelve speed bike, which was primarily how I got around back then.

    It wasn’t a planned trip. We had both been out riding and, when we ran into each other (figuratively speaking) at the corner of Seven Mile and Wakenden, we just picked a direction and kept going.

    I love riding, but it can sometimes be a lonely pastime, so I was glad for the company. Eventually, several hours--and god know how many miles--later, we ended up there on the driveway just as the sun was beginning to set. It had been a great day. I was pleasantly tired and we’d gone all over the place, talking about everything and nothing.

    That’s where I went. Back to that textbook summer evening—not that I believe, in any way, that you can capture the magic of either Youth or Summer in something like a textbook.

    When I got there, just as I was about to head home and my friend was about to go inside for dinner, I walked up to my younger self and very quietly, but also very firmly, said:

    “Ask her out, you complete idiot.”

    The next thing I knew, I was here...

    1. Well played, Ken! Really, nicely done, and charming to boot. :)