It’s 2065. My great granddaughter Sophie is fifteen. She has the same fascination with her past that my sister had with our past. In 2017, my sister was the genealogist in the family. She sat cloistered in dark corners of musty libraries looking at old microfiche films trying to piece together a family tree. She had copies of birth certificates, marriage licenses, and death certificates. She knew which children died young and which relatives were talked about in low whispers. There’s something humbling about knowing that others came before and others will come after.
My great grandmother—my mother’s mother’s mother—was also named Sophie. She lived in Los Angeles in the 1930’s—in a four-story brick building around the corner from where I now live. I wonder if she ever tried to imagine what my life would be like. After all, I am her legacy.
And my great granddaughter Sophie is my legacy. She is infinitely curious about what life was like in the early 2000’s. She doesn’t have as much trouble (or fun) unearthing information about her mother’s mother’s mother (me). There are 3D recordings of every aspect of my life and the world I lived in. There are “museums” where you can experience Los Angeles in real time—the warm, dry air, palm trees, bumper to bumper traffic, ice cream cones, car horns, and cell phones.
She tries to imagine what it was like to live under the shadow of climate change. Were we afraid? How did we cope? Did we try to imagine what her world would be like? She decides to write a letter to me—her great grandmother. Suspend belief for a moment. If she could mail it into the past, this is the letter I would receive.
Dear Great Grandmother,
I am Sophie, your great granddaughter. It is 2065. I live around the corner from where you lived in Los Angeles (Can you even believe that!). I want to tell you about my world. I know you must be curious. First I want you to know how grateful we are for the work you all did to stop climate change. All of our power comes from the sun, wind, and water. That means there is no air pollution. Our lungs are so happy. Asthma is practically non-existent (I think one of your cousins had bad asthma). That means everything is much quieter than it was in your day. Also, our cities are designed very differently—they don’t sprawl in all directions like yours did. They actually end and then there are open green spaces surrounding the cities. All of our transportation is public. There are very few private cars. Oh, and people walk a lot! I bet that surprises you. Cities are much quieter than they used to be—I’ve been to museums where I was able to experience your time so I know how noisy your cities were.
We did not escape climate change altogether—our temperatures are higher than they were in the olden days, but we are learning to adapt. I wish that we could have met each other. I hope this letter finds you in time.
With love from your great granddaughter, Sophie.