If I Could Travel Back in Time…..

Hi there, Dear Reader. It’s late afternoon here in New Hometown, Florida on Monday, November 16, 2020. Presently, the temperature is 80˚F (26˚C) under mostly sunny skies; with humidity at 71% and the wind blowing from the north-northeast at 7 MPH (11 KM/H), the heat index is 80˚F (26˚C). The forecast for tonight calls for mostly clear skies and a low of 59˚F (15˚C).

Today I feel somewhat…unsettled and wistful. I find myself looking back at happier times and wishing that I could travel back in time to escape from my so-called life in this anno horriblis of 2020 and be not just elsewhere but else-when as well. I know, I know. Time travel is impossible, but it doesn’t hurt anyone if I fantasize about going to a time and place where I was younger, less cynical, and still had a modicum of self-agency, optimism, and a sense of adventure.

If I had my way – and if I could somehow fiddle with the time-space continuum – I would love to travel back to November of 1988. That’s when I was a 25-year-old college student and a participant in the College Consortium for International Studies (CCIS) Semester in Spain program in Sevilla (Seville), Spain.

There I am (center), at the student newspaper’s production room with two other staff members (Robert Tamayo, left,and Jennie Ahrens, right)

32 years ago, as I recall, the 42 students who participated in the CCIS program during the Fall Term of the 1988-1989 academic year were getting ready for the Thanksgiving dinner that Lisa Dolan, the student activities director, had arranged with the staff at a now-defunct Italian restaurant called Carlino that was located not too far away from the CCIS Center at  No. 16 Calle Adolfo Rodriguez Jurado.  

November 16, 1988 fell on a Wednesday, so Thanksgiving was still eight days away. By then, we had already gone on our last – and longest – out of town trip to Granada, which was not only memorable because it was our one and only overnight excursion, but also because it was the first time I ever got seriously drunk. (I also remember the delicious callos a la madrileña that I ate at Restaurante Los Manueles shortly before I got inebriated by drinking too much red wine with the program director, Dr. Juan Durá, and the aforementioned student activities director. The restaurant is still there, the  callos a la madrileña, alas, are no longer in the menu.)

I lost most of the CCIS Center-related documentation I brought back to the States, but as I recall, we didn’t have any more out-of-town trips on the schedule. The semester, which started for us in late September, was coming to an end in less than three weeks, so the Thanksgiving dinner would be our last extracurricular activity before we turned in our term papers and studied for our various final exams.

This is how I described our last weeks in Seville for my college campus student newspaper in a column that I wrote in December of 1988 from my apartment in Los Remedios:

We’re not quite ready to go home yet

Written in December 1988, published March 2, 1989)

Alex Diaz-Granados

SEVILLE, Spain (CCIS Program)

The winter holiday season has arrived and here in Seville the 42 students participating in the CCIS Semester in Spain program are looking beyond the upcoming final exams and planning their return home or further European travel.

Already, they have celebrated Thanksgiving, traditionally a very homey holiday, truly away from home as they are 3,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean.

Most of the group celebrated a traditional American Thanksgiving dinner, prepared by Italian chefs at the three-star restaurant Carlino. The meal, judging by the students’ comments, was psychologically, if not gastronomically, successful.

“The group really came together,” said Sandra Langlois, a freshman from Miami-Dade’s South Campus. “It was really special for me because I am French, and it was my first American Thanksgiving. I really got the true feeling of the tradition of the holiday – togetherness.”

Now, a few weeks later, students’ thoughts are geared to either further travel throughout the holiday or their homecoming.

Melissa Miller, a senior from Lake Forest College in Chicago, said, “I’ll be spending the holidays in Vienna, Austria, so I’ll be sure to have a white Christmas, and I won’t be alone because I’m traveling with a bunch of friends.”

However, the majority of the participants in the program are ready to go home — some more than others.

“I’m ready to go home,” said Bob Holzweiss, a junior from St. Bonaventure College in New York State. “I’ve been here 12 weeks, and that’s enough.”

“I miss the luxuries of home — convenience stores and fast food joints — and also my car, my family and friends,” said Ingrid Gottlieb, a student from Broward Community College. “And I miss my boyfriend.”

Others, such as Wendy Page, a sophomore from South Campus, decided to stay for the Spring Term.

“Three months is just not enough time for me to get a full taste of the culture and lifestyle that Seville has to offer,” she said.

And although he’s leaving at the end of the semester, Fairfield University’s Mike Boucher agreed.

“A lot of good things have happened here in terms of self-discovery, friendship, independence, and sense of perspective, and I don’t think I’m ready to go home.”

Also contributing to this column is Michelle Kirby, foreign correspondent for Beacon, North Adams State College, Mass. and Mainsheet, Cape Cod CC’s student newspaper.

View of Seville as seen on Google Maps.

Okay, I know that time travel is impossible, and even if It weren’t, I don’t know if there would be two versions of me existing in Seville simultaneously, or if my backward jaunt to 1988 would obliterate 1988 me and leave 2020 me  stranded both in Spain and in the past. (Also, would I be 57 years old then as I am now, or would I somehow revert to being 25 years old?)

Oh, well. I guess it’s a silly fantasy, this time travel thing. But a little daydreaming never hurt anyone, right?

Published by Alex Diaz-Granados

Alex Diaz-Granados (1963- ) began writing movie reviews as a staff writer and Entertainment Editor for his high school newspaper in the early 1980s and was the Diversions editor for Miami-Dade Community College, South Campus' student newspaper for one semester. Using his experiences in those publications, Alex has been raving and ranting about the movies online since 2003 at various web sites, including Amazon, Ciao and Epinions. In addition to writing reviews, Alex has written or co-written three films ("A Simple Ad," "Clown 345," and "Ronnie and the Pursuit of the Elusive Bliss") for actor-director Juan Carlos Hernandez. You can find his reviews and essays on his blogs, A Certain Point of View and A Certain Point of View, Too.

7 thoughts on “If I Could Travel Back in Time…..

  1. It must have been a glorious thing to do. I missed out on the college experience because I was working FT and going to college at the same time, but I had other adventures. Still, posts like this make me wish I had seriously gone to college after high school. It just seems like so much fun.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. College, for the most part, was probably the happiest period of my Miami years. It wasn’t perfect, mind you, and I wish I’d been less shy and more self-confident around women then, but it was…exciting and interesting (most of the time, anyway).

      I actually thrived academically, at least through 90% of my quest for an AA degree in mass communications/journalism. I even made the National Dean’s List for 1986-1987.

      My only regret was not being able to finish due to that pesky learning disability I have. Math is my kryptonite.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My kryptonite was calculus, and at that time it was required for the computer science degree I was going for. Ended up taking a lesser one because I just couldn’t grasp it. All the computer languages I learned are pretty much obsolete anyway.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. For me, dropping out of college because I couldn’t even pass Remedial Math is one of my biggest regrets.

        I don’t write about that topic often, partly because I’ve never quite gotten over the disappointment I felt when I realized that no amount of tutoring, focusing solely on math classes, or independent study could overcome what I strongly suspect is a learning disability caused by physical damage to the brain tissue.

        And I don’t talk to people about this topic in person, either. Why? Because nine times out of 10 I get the “Hey, you know, if you REALLY applied yourself to learning math, you could pass those courses easily. You just don’t like math and don’t want to do the hard work.”

        Er…there were classes in college that I didn’t quite like – such as my freshman social studies course, which was taught by the only professor I ever met that matched the “leftist liberal” stereotype that conservatives like to bash when they bash college education, and I worked my butt off in that class even though I didn’t like it.

        And when I attempted to take algebra during my first semester in 1985, I spent an entire Saturday with a friend who grasped math better than I did trying to solve for x in one equation. (I didn’t “solve for x,” so the following Monday I went to the registrar’s office and dropped the course.)

        I miss the intellectual stimulation I got when I was a college student, and if math wasn’t my kryptonite, I’d try to go back and at least get my AA degree. But…yeah….

        Liked by 1 person

      3. It’s a shame – if you could have gotten an exclusion for those courses based on your disability I bet you could have gone far. People don’t realize that sometimes there just are some things you can’t grasp. I tried pre-calculus in high school and nearly failed. I tried Calculus 1 in college and even with the answer keys showing me what the answer should be and how to get there, I couldn’t figure it out myself. The lower degree allowed me to take statistics and logic as my math requirements and I did fine with those.

        It’s nothing to be ashamed of. Many people with math and engineering degrees can’t write to save their lives.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. One of my favorite professors, who taught Honors History (cos, you know, I was in the Honors program then), said that she thought the universal math requirement was an unfair burden, but, to use a modern phrase that wasn’t in vogue back then, “it is what it is.”

        Sometimes…well, most of the time, anyway….I’m at peace with my decision to drop out of college, even though I only had nine credits’ (three courses) worth of math to go for graduation and a transfer to a four-year state university. I’d tried Remedial Math twice – once I soldiered on for the entire semester; the second go-round entailed signing up for the course the next term, only to drop it on the day I took the diagnostic test because I was so stressed that I developed painful hives in my armpits! (That was painful.)

        I really hate it when people – who mean well but don’t understand what it means to have a learning disability – tell me, “You should try again now that you’re older and wiser.”

        I’ve never had a brain scan – those are too pricey just to do to prove a theory – but I’m pretty sure that the birth injury that caused my cerebral palsy also damaged the part of the brain that governs, you know, understanding of mathematics and physics.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Alex. Just because you don’t have a sheepskin doesn’t me you don’t have the education/knowledge of a PHD


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