The prompt today asks, if you could go back in time, when would you go and why?
First of all, I’d stock up on ibuprofen, antibiotics and other personal comforts. Because life back before 1950 or so was simply nasty, if you ask me.
Then, if I can only be a passive observer, I’d head back to the Anglo-Saxon age in England. Call ’em “dark ages” all you want, but the period between the departure of the Romans and the arrival of the Normans was bursting with art, poetry, and passion, not to mention a push towards universal education (one of the reasons King Alfred was “Great”) and much more equality for women than either the Romans or the Normans believed in. Much of what we consider to be our American spirit comes directly from these proud and independent people, and it’s a shame we don’t teach our children more about them. And I’d definitely have a chat with some monks about a little poem called “Beowulf.”
If I could play with the past, I’d go back to London in 1596 or so and hang about the alehouses and playhouses until I located a chap named William Shakespeare. Then I’d get him to hire me as his housekeeper. I know what you’re thinking: “Huh?” Bear with me here. As his housekeeper, I would have access to everything he every wrote — every manuscript, every note, every bit of parchment tossed aside as no good — and instead of allowing him to burn it or scrape and reuse the parchment or sell it to the ragman or the fishmonger or otherwise destroy his precious work, I would gather up every last bit of it and take it home where I would catalog it by stage of writing (first draft? rewrite? emendation? final?) and date. I have no desire whatsoever to be the Dark Lady of the Sonnets, but boy, would I love to be the Terribly Organized Mistress of the Manuscripts.