I'm sitting across from a psychiatrist. We're
in his office, and he's holding a notepad in one hand, a pen in the
The doctor clears his throat and looks up at me. After considering his words for a minute, he asks me what year I was born. I tell him, 1973.
He doesn't believe me. That's because I'm 35, and the year is 1968. That's why I'm here.
I'm not being forced to come here; I came here on my own volition. I called the doctor yesterday and was able to schedule an appointment for this afternoon.
The doctor – his name is Wendell Douglass – writes something down, and asks me how I got here.
That's the thing. I don't know.
I tell him that.
I tell him that I just got here six days ago.
He nods, still writing, and asks me where I came from, if I remember.
Of course I remember. Before four days ago, I was in the middle of the Great Depression. I was there for a week and a half.
Dr. Wendell Douglass stops writing and looks back up, eyes peering over the frame of his black glasses. He sits back in his chair and asks me to explain what, exactly, is happening to me.
I start to explain.
It started almost two years ago. I even
remember what I was doing. I had just gotten off work – I was a
salesman at a major development company for GPS software – and was
leaving the office.
When I got outside, it was the late nineteenth century.
I knew this because I asked someone.
Since that moment two years ago, the seventh of June, 2006, I have been in a different time every week or two.
I don't always know what year I'm in, either.
Last month, I was completely alone. For two weeks, I looked for someone, anyone, but never found another person.
What's frustrating is that I only move in time, I don't move in space. I could have been in the 1300s, or 5000 BC.
My watch is still set to how it was when I first moved through time. That's my only connection to 'my' time.
I tell the doctor that right now, it's 7:36 PM, on April 21st, 2008.
He asks me why I still have my watch set to that time.
It's hard to say why, specifically. One reason is that I want to know how much time has passed since my first jump. I'd also like to know when – if – I get back to my time.
It also provides my sole reassurance that I may not be crazy. I still have a link to my old life, and by looking at it, I almost feel like, even though I'm lost in time, everything from my old life is still there.
I know it doesn't make sense. I can tell the doctor doesn't think so. He doesn't say it, of course, but Dr. Wendell Douglass is writing quickly, furiously, glancing up at me on occasion. I wait.
He finishes writing and asks me why I feel the need for a connection to my time.
I tell him it's because ever since my first jump, I have never been back to my time. The closest I've come was 1998.
Ever since my first jump, I've been questioning my sanity. For two years now, I've hoped for the best, but feared the worst.
I tell him that this is my first time seeing a psychiatrist. After two years of self-doubt, I had to try and find something out.
The doctor asks me why I had chosen to see him now.
He asks if I feel more comfortable here; if this feels like a more familiar time period.
I tell him, no. That's not why. Part of it, I tell him, is because I have been unable to find a psychiatrist – or even a doctor – so often.
He says I mentioned spending weeks him isolation. He wants to know how I survived.
Three months after I started jumping around – slipping around? – after spending some time in the 1900s, 1800s, and 1700s, I had begun to get used to it.
At least, I had started to accept it.
But after three months of always being around civilization, or at least some people, I woke up in a forest.
I had a general idea of what had happened almost immediately.
It was nighttime, and I was surrounded by dark trees.
I tell the doctor that the sky was beautiful. Impossibly clear.
As far as I could tell, I was entirely alone. The next day, I went out looking for any people. I didn't find anyone.
I had no experience in wilderness survival, so I couldn't catch anything to eat. I found a stream on my first day, so I stayed near that to drink from it.
For the next week, I hardly ate anything.
By the fourth or fifth day – I had lost track – I was entirely weak with hunger. I wasn't searching for settlers anymore. I was just drinking from my steam and wondering how long I'd be here.
Luckily, after the first week, I was back in the 1940s, and I was able to eat.
After that, I carried a bag with food in it wherever – and whenever – I went.
Dr. Douglass asks me how long I've been in 1968.
I tell him that I had already said, six days. He nods, says he was just making sure.
I know where he's going with this.
He asks if I'll still be here next week.
I look at the clock. It's already been an hour. He wants to schedule another appointment.
I ask him if he knows what's wrong with me. He's not sure, but he might know in a couple more sessions.
He can't prescribe me anything until he's sure of a diagnosis.
I'm nearly positive I won't be here in a week.
I tell him he might be able to expect me in another thirty years or so. I'm only half joking, but that's because he's already in his sixties.
Dr. Wendell Douglass smiles and replies that he can't schedule an appointment that far in advance.
I wasn't actually expecting results today. I knew he wouldn't be able to help me after just an hour.
I thank him for his time. He tells me – again – to come by next week, if I can.
I suppose my main reason for coming here was because, after two years, I needed to talk to someone about it. Even though he didn't believe it – I don't think I believe it – it felt good to tell someone. It even made me feel a little less crazy.
Besides, I had accepted what was wrong with me, whatever it is, a long time ago.
I'd just like to fix it if I can.
As I walked out of the doctor's office, I didn't even blink when I stepped outside and was surrounded by Model Ts.