A time-travel spa, featuring Louisa May Alcott, quiet hair-brushing time and Frappuccinos

lfarrell@islandpacket.comAugust 28, 2013 

When I was a teenager, I used to fantasize about time-traveling to the late 1800s and finding my way to the home of Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy March in Concord, Massachusetts.

First, I planned to blow everyone's minds "Back to the Future"-style with my modern attire -- which at the time was most likely to be an ensemble of pegged Guess jeans, Tretorn sneakers and a safari-themed T-shirt from Banana Republic, a store that used to smell like elephant, I swear it.

My main goal, though, was to teach these girls about the future and its many impressive features: such as the Conair Fashion Plate hair crimper, Swatch watches, Wet and Wild Nail Polish, the movie "Dirty Dancing" -- all things I cherished back then and thought they'd enjoy; things I knew were indicative of my era and conceptually advanced beyond anything in their lives.

"Look how far we've come," I'd tell them. "We have everything you have, PLUS MORE."

No matter that the March sisters were fictional or that their creator, Louisa May Alcott, had based their lives on her own pensive and transcendentalist upbringing, I wanted them to know how much more fun Boston was in the late 1980s, how we could record our favorite songs off the radio if we were quick on the uptake, how we could take the T to Harvard Square without our parents knowing, how we could talk to two friends at once on something called a "three-way telephone line."

Life was amazing. We had technology. And I could think of no better time to live in than my own. I was so proud of my luck and wanted to share it with these beloved characters of a much simpler time.

I'm not sure I still feel this way.

Don't get me wrong, between smartphones and DVRs, Google Maps and the ability to find out just about any fact at the flick of a finger, I am so very grateful to have been born in the future -- the Age of Things, the Time of Connection, the Era of So Much Possibility.

But there's so much possibility. So much connection. So many things.

Lately I've been fantasizing again about time-traveling to the 19th century ... and just staying there for a while.

Not too long. Like this Labor Day weekend maybe. Or that week between Christmas and New Year's that everyone in the world seems to have off except me.

I'd arrive without luggage. No iPhone, no iPad, no laptop, no email address, no Twitter access, no Clarisonic face cleanser. I'd be free of all possession.

I'd treat it like a time-travel spa. After I cleared up inevitable confusion with the March family about "who I am" and "why I'm here," I'd quickly change into some period-appropriate clothing to blend in and really experience the folksy simplicity of the time. Then I'd go for a nice stroll in town with Meg and Jo. Just us and Simple Town doing Simple Things, Being Simple, taking in the pure air and politely nodding to the good people of Concord as I explain, "No, no. I'm a girl. Mr. March's britches are the only thing that fit me."

Later, after a Simple Meal and a Simple Piano-side Sing-along, I'd let Amy brush my hair while we chatted about kittens and I'd revel in the pleasure of electronic silence and the limited diversions of the time.

What a lovely life. Why would anyone have wanted anything more than this? Why did we invent so much stuff beyond just sitting here and getting our hair brushed and talking about kittens?

Why did we ruin it? It's so ruined.

The next morning I'd wake up, sure of my decision: I'm staying. I'll steal Laurie away from Jo or Amy -- or whoever's in love with him right now, I can't keep up with the drama -- and I will marry him. And we will live here forever. I'll just be a Simple Girl in no makeup, a severe middle part, a bonnet to cover the severe middle part and man's pants.

No Botox. No teeth whitening. No phone. No Instagram. No pressure about keeping up with TV shows and memes or living in 140-character bursts. No obsession with "the future" because I will probably die of consumption soon.

This is the plan, I'd think as I head into the Marches' breakfast room full of resolve. I have found my rightful time. This is where I belong.

"Excuse me, good people, I don't mean to interrupt ... but where is Laurie? And where is your Starbucks?"

Liz Farrell is the editor of Lowcountry Current. Follow her at twitter.com/elizfarrell.

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