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Only Time Can Tell

I looked down into that space in the corner of Andy’s kitchen where two cabinets would join, but because of the limitations in design nothing with purpose could we give it. The cabinets were in, but no countertop as yet. That big empty space would beckon to me as I walked about the room doing this or that remodel task.   It is such a waste of space I thought more than once. And then close to the time when it would be sealed up forever, a thought occurred to me. What if we use the space to talk to the future?   Kitchens last for decades, some for 20 to 30 or more years before anyone is so dissatisfied with it that they undertake the grueling task of a another remodel.

I began to imagine that future family and wondered about them. Who would it be? What would they be like? Would it be a family just starting out or someone entering their sunset years?   And if it were a family, what would its composition be? Would it be a return to the traditional ones so long gone in our times of a mom and a dad and a junior and a sis?   Or would it be some other manifestation of the familial concept?   Let’s do a time capsule for your lost kitchen space, I said to Andy. Let’s let the future know about this home that now belongs to it. And so we did. In a pretty silver box we put a few CDs of Andy’s original music. We put a Dylanfest postcard. This was the 28th year Andy and Renee put this annual homage to Bob Dylan on via an all day concert of music by them and their band and their musical friends. Would this future have a Dylanfest? Andy put some American and Canadian coins in, I believe and another Canadian artifact or two. Time was of the essence. I wrote a quick letter to the future. I wish I had more time to do a better one. I wonder who will read this letter. Let’s hope it’s not us!! Or maybe that wouldn’t be such a bad thing either. And with Andy’s permission, here’s to the future.

“Dear Future Owner of 17411 Delia in Torrance CA,

Today the kitchen you are tearing out decades into the future is brand new. I am the current owner, Andy Hill’s, friend. The year is 2018. The day is June 9. I hope you all can still read in the future. This is a great house. A little history: Andy and I and my husband all bought our first house together. In December of 2000, we split and I found this house for Andy to move to. He has been there ever since. The kitchen was old when he bought the house and now 18 years later it is finally going to be brand new.   My role in this was to help him through the final design and remodel stages. So this week we finished it and this space here where you have found this silver box had to be left as an unavoidable void so I thought let’s talk to the future from it.

I hope you still feel the sound of music in this home. Andy is a singer/songwriter and a wonderful musician. He had lots of concerts and musical events here at his home. He is the one that turned your garage into a music studio. A little bit of the times we live in now. Turbulent and fractured, something that has been common to our country unfortunately for decades. I so hope you all have solved these differences by the time you read this letter. Donald Trump is president, and don’t believe ANYTHING good history may re-write about him- he was nightmare.   I don’t know much else to tell you about popular culture other than we have a horrific school shooting problem right now. Kids are going into high schools and shooting up the place. The gun issue in this country seems insolvable. Common sense things like outlawing assault rifles can’t get done thanks to the National Rifle Association’s power that prevents any progress in this area. It is sad. I sure hope you read this letter and think wow what an archaic way to live and that the gun problem in this country is solved forever. Homelessness is another major problem in our times. The policy of the Republicans- (the other political party is the Democrats) to cut social services for those most in needs and to build prisons rather than institutions to help the mentally ill and house them problem is a national shame right now. That is another wish I have for your future, that compassionate institutions are built for those among us who can no longer take care of themselves.

Music and theater are my passions. I can’t tell you too much about the popular TV shows, but the plays right now are Hamilton and Dear Evan Hansen and School of Rock and not sure if you are a music lover but Bruce Springsteen is currently on Broadway in an extraordinary show he did. I flew back in November to see it.

I am retired from the US Customs Service so I don’t have much to report in the work force arena.   We didn’t get our woman president in 2016 as we had all hoped. Hillary Clinton lost the election, I so hope by the time you read this, we will have had a woman president and perhaps even a gay president. Parts of the world seem to be slipping back into intolerance of people who are different. I so hope you read this letter and think- wow that is a thing of the past and glad we are no longer there.

I am a fledging writer and who knows perhaps by the time you read this, even a published one!! Look me up, LOL! That was an acronym devised for the proliferation of texting that we all do on our phones that means Laughing Out Loud. The most overused thing we have today. I hope your future has gone back a bit to the more personal exchange between humans. Today all we seem to be able to do is stare at a tiny screen to communicate with anyone. A humanistic backlash to that would be great. I wonder what technology you will have to listen to music or read books or get your entertainment from in your time? A little observation, no matter how far we go with our technology there is NOTHING like live entertainment. Think of it, in Shakespeare’s day in the 1600’s all there was were live plays and hundreds of years later in my time today, it is still the best form ever. I hope that doesn’t disappear in your time.

My sons are 16 and 21 right now. Their names are Max and Marco Bowers. We live at 16431 Illinois court, not far from you. Who knows they may still be there and with a bit of luck, maybe so will I by the time you rip out this kitchen for a new one. If I am, please come and say hello.

Well this has been fun talking to you and I wish you and your family/occupants of this home, a wonderful and happy time here. Thanks for reading.”


Maddalena Beltrami

3 comments on “Only Time Can Tell

  1. Don says:

    The more things change the more they stay the same.Jean Baptise 1890


  2. Arda says:

    This was a wonderful idea! What I love most about it is that it’s the kind of idea that other people may have also come up with, but hardly anyone would have actually carried it out.


  3. Thank you so much for reading it and the nice comments. Well I had a saying when I was PTA president that I am sure I stole from some famous person when a parent came up to suggest I do something or other– ‘You dream it, you do it’.. My motto actually.


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