Your Body is a Time Machine, Second Prize Essay in the New Art Writers Contest!

Dear readers, as we publish the cash prize and honorable mention winners in the 2018 New Art Writers Contest, we'd like to thank everyone who took the time to share their writing with us and congratulate all the winners! This year’s turnout was truly encouraging and we can’t wait to share the “Best of the New Art Writing Contest Anthology” book with you all in 2019. Thanks also to Mari Shaw, whose generosity and support of local art writing allowed us to offer our biggest prizes to date.

Image from Lane Speidel's winning piece "Time Travel". Photo courtesy of Lane Speidel.
Image from Lane Speidel’s winning piece “Time Travel”. Photo courtesy of Lane Speidel.

Time Travel
by Lane Speidel

My mind is like loose plastic beads on an old string. Frozen sticky moments reaching
to click to connect. So much distance in between such understanding. Parts touch
occasionally and I can communicate over and through parts of myself, between
moods and spaces of time. But other times they are just too far to think of.

My childhood is series of holes, so much that I can’t remember.
I remember quickly cutting and sorting through scraps of fabric and holding them
up to my sister, wrapping them around and then sewing them that way to make a
dress. I remember the feeling of the cold metal of the sewing machine and the
afternoon sunlight honey on the floor.
I remember drawing at my desk, spinning flower shapes that expanded and
I remember back aching bending in low light in my haunted attic late. Cold and hot
at the same time painting with my fingers because the brushes I had were old and
I remember running low in the cool grass in the backyard, burying coins and scraps
of things and loose earring backs I had found in the dirt in a special spot under the
window, leaving them there for weeks to see what would happen.

What I mean is that I remember making things, but little else.


That is how I can talk through time to myself, pressing things through and in
between selves.

Time Splits
I know that I have memories from the future. I know that I sense the on coming of
bad things. I knew that there was dread dread dread waiting for me on that gravel
road. Sometimes I wish I never knew what happened, never put it together in their
He bookmarked and sidelined a whole other life.

I could have been a whole, another person
All time is simultaneously enfolded happening at the same time.

Artblog Lane Speidel Time Travel In text image 1

Timelines can be lost, broken or splintered through trauma.
A whole timeline is created around a fracturing event, a beam of intense
If moments of happiness echo and transmute through layers of time, then so does
trauma, deep pain, shock, and so does brief flickering moments of self-love.
When you are feeling that intense self-obliterating pain you are feeling it for every
time you ever have felt and will feel that way, that is why it feels so big, you are
simply arriving in the same place. Things start to pile on. We are arriving at this
non-linear space moment of feeling.
I remember when I where I’ve ever felt self-love. When I feel it, that small cluster of
moments all exist in my chest. I am performing a play for myself in my backyard as a
child while I am dying fabric with vegetables in my backyard as an adult. Crackling
tight warmth tickling and bursting, pride and adoration for myself glow.
What an effort to time travel to make a boy born in November.
What a miracle of science to travel to the year 1991 and make an M on a birth
You can change the past but only in the binary recognized by the government. Outside of time but inside of the binary.

Can I go back through time to the moment I was born and call myself nothing?
A baby that grows into a child that grows into a person.


If I never existed would I be at all?
In moments of trauma there are tears in the timeline. If trauma is time travel
though, so is healing. Through positive experiences and direct healing you can reach
through and forge together splits in timelines.

Whether it’s the gradual split of being raised as a gender you are not, or a sudden
event of assault. In that moment your story splits into a world where that thing
happens and then everything that follows as you make decisions based around that
event, or a world where that never happened.

Through a portal, with deep willingness and contentment, you can actually cleave
together these truths and make a change to that person’s future present.
Finding Portals

I find I can heal through the calm that comes from intense bodily experiences.
Submerged in a cool stream up to my ears, looking up through the trees, feeling
small I can feel it.

Ringing and buzzing and pinging my nerves after a performance I can do it.

During or after a safe and affirming sexual encounter, piece by piece I feel myself
getting to be less afraid.

Rarely it catches up on me if I’m doing something just for joy, just for the feeling of
it. Swinging my arms and legs in a ridiculous way, making something wild just for
me, I think I can make myself into a person that was never so sad.

Artblog Lane Speidel Time Travel in text image 2

After Worlds

Every split that happens can also be healed, sewing timelines together can be done,
through healing. The seams are afterworlds.

Sometimes I feel the multitudes of selves rattling inside. I think these are all
vestiges of timelines. I am working hard to merge them, to heal, and remember. So
many memories are shaded or dark because of trauma tearing away the fabric, so many pasts I won’t have access to.

It’s not about eradicating it’s about patching, it’s about healing, it’s about growing.

After worlds/Aftereffects of time travel

I feel myself changing from closed to open. From acting, to healing. From reaction to
reflection. From editing to expression. From finding reason to hate myself to finding
reasons to love myself. I feel myself opening into the fear of having a brand new raw
skin, I find that I am peeling and blooming any way into the wetness newness of
actual existence.

I’ve wished everything could be new but I know now that newness in itself is not
even new, but simply rinsed and slightly strange. I’m okay with not new, I’m true.

Lane Speidel was born in new york city and now they live in philadelphia. They are a pre-school teacher, a scorpio, a trans non-binary person, an anxious pooper, a member of vox populi, a graduate of tyler school of art.
I like to walk sometimes, I like to collect trash, I like to feel my friend’s hair, I like to put my body upside down, I just decided that I love myself.