It all began with Stephen King’s 11/22/63.
And a coffee shop.
And that silly question I asked myself (as most imaginative kids do at some point) wondering who’d I’d be—or even if I’d be if my mom or dad hadn’t been born?
Here’s where I bring it all together for you.
Remember my post last Tuesday about how we’re all being prepared for something? No one could argue
I’m hardwired to work at coffee shops. I’ve worked as a barista in Connecticut, Hilton Head, and in Georgia. I must have a Sumatra blend pumping through my veins.
Only natural I started my job last week assisting the owner at a ______________ . You guessed it, a coffee shop.
There I am weighing and grinding beans, absorbing everything I can about the shop when I catch snippets of conversation the owner is having with a woman at the counter. The customer with long gray hair passes a well-researched handwritten family tree to the owner. I’m intrigued. Invited to join the conversation, I envision this woman, this genealogist, as a character from one of my novels.
She’s immediately likeable. The three of us engage in fascinating chitchat about bloodlines, difficult lineages to trace, and how every family has colorful characters in their tree. I laugh and share how as a kid I had an unusual comeback whenever I got teased “What’s your middle name, Isa?” Get it? Wendy “Isa” Paine. Ba dum dum. My comeback often had something to do with Thomas Paine being my ancestor. Yep, it flew right over their taunting heads. But it felt great to say (even though as a second grader I didn’t fully grasp who TP was or what that meant).
Then the genealogist in the coffee shop makes me an offer I couldn’t refuse.
I jot down names.
And within twenty-four hours this woman went to work, digging up treasures from my line.
Are you wondering how I’m going to connect this to Stephen King’s latest, 11/22/63?
I read King’s book recently. 11/22/63 offers a glimpse of how the world changes each time Jake Epping walks down diner steps into a time travel portal and rewrites history.
The book churned up a lot of thoughts about how we’re influenced by the past—how history is secured like bricks beneath us. Without it we lack foundation. We’d crumble.
Before reading King’s book I might not have written down those names for the genealogist. King’s book sparked a curiosity in me that wasn’t there before.
That and the reality that this month marks the third anniversary of my father’s death.
One of the first pictures the genealogist sent was a black and white photo of my dad as a little boy, all smiley-faced and full of potential. My initial reaction produced a few tears. Then, in his best Mufasa impersonation, it was as though I could hear my dad affirming the past matters.
All of us, every single second we are alive, are doing things to influence the future.
We change time.
Have you ever researched your family tree? Does genealogy intrigue you? As a kid did you ever wonder who you’d be or even if you’d be if your mom and dad had never been born? Finally, do you believe you are changing the world—that you’re changing time?
(Feel free to answer any or all of the above.)
*photos by stock.XCHNG
**Get this! In her devoted search of my lineage this dedicated woman sent me a real mindblower last night…my great grandfather X 9 was named Stephen Paine. Nothing unusual about that. But add to that his occupation as a miller. Well now, things just got interesting. I married a Stephen Miller.