Plastic wrap, the railing, and time


Growing up, all of the kids heard the stories.

Take a Twinkie, keep it wrapped, and place it on the railing of the stairs to your house. Come back in one hundred years. Stairs might be destroyed. The house might be gone. But somewhere in the area will be that Twinkie… safely wrapped and fresh as the day it was baked.

Sure, I was skeptical then, and I remain a non-believer of the legend today. Still… I didn’t begin a test. I have no evidence that it wouldn’t be there in one hundred years. (Or, giving it a bit of thought, if I did begin a test (and it is at the very least possible I did place a Twinkie on some counter): (1) The Twinkie has been taken or moved, or, (2) I have forgotten where I placed it and haven’t seen it once in the four-plus decades since. I have no evidence. (As I give this more and more thought, I know where the damn Twinkie is. Peabody Drive. I left it at Nana’s house. (Darn it!)))

Ok… back on track… while Twinkies may have an expiration date, with the rumors about the century-long shelf life generally agreed upon as false, the funny thing is, time does move along. The days pass, months pass, years pass, and there are places where we see it while others barely seem to age at all.

There were three houses that held special meaning for me as a child. My home, and then the two belonging to grandparents. Give me a set of car keys, place me in my home state, and I could bring us to any of the three driveways. I can still picture certain unique parts of the houses… trees, gardens, clotheslines, even a stagecoach-like wheel partially set in the dirt and resting against a fence.

Funny thing though, none of the houses look the same today as they did decades ago. New colors. New additions. New landscaping. And it hasn’t been one hundred years since my childhood. In fact, not one of those houses was around one hundred years ago.

How long does it take for a year to pass?

Ok, yes, strange question since there are measurements that allow for a standard and accurate answer. More to the general idea, it does seem different as an adult than it did at other points in my life.

When I was younger, the length of time I would be in school seemed like an eternity. For some reason, I can recall a day in fourth grade when I was thinking about still having eight years of school to go after that one was completed. Outrageous. How would I make it?

These days, I could be on the computer making reservations for a trip six months in the future (or further out than that), and it sure feels like as I close the web browser I need to pack my luggage and get in the car to drive to the airport for my flight.

There are branches of science that discuss things like velocity. They might examine different situations where objects may in one fashion be moving at the same speed even though they are in another way moving at different speeds. (I think, say for the example of two points on the same record, the ideas were called angular velocity and linear velocity. But this is not intended to be a class on physics or such.) Often, I find myself stretching this concept to explain how a child and an adult might view things like the passage of time differently.

If you want a funny example of how time moves and hits you in different ways, look no further than a piece of wood. Two-by-four perhaps, or even a fencepost will do. Keep them in the garage and they’ll have that somewhat off-yellow hue for years upon years upon forever. Leave the lumber in the yard, or get that fencepost set in the ground, the gray seasoning will begin to appear quickly enough. Inside the garage… outside in the yard… not even a difference in temperature really. But the aging process… the weathering… different.

Kind of difficult to believe that Twinkie legend shouldn’t include a disclaimer about placing it outside. Then again, without some context it can also be difficult to conceptualize two places on the same solid object covering different lengths when in motion.

I don’t feel any different on my birthday. At least not physically. Of course, that brings with it the idea that I’m the same now as I was last year, and two years ago, and ten years ago (or more). Which, yes, isn’t true at all. But then again, I’m not wrapped in plastic and stored in my garage.


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