Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Time Travel

Actual travel, just as fulfilling.
We are constantly time-traveling. I don’t mean that joke about moving forward in time one second per second. I certainly am not talking about relativity and complex Einsteinian physics. I simply mean that in our minds, we live certain moments outside of the time continuum with which we most often associate.

I first read Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five when I was fifteen, and like Billy Pilgrim, I often find myself unstuck in time. There are mornings where I awaken unsure if yesterday really occurred - and not just when the preceding day’s event were monumental. I’ve had dreams that involved living through an average Tuesday, and awoken to discover it was that morning.

So you’ll believe me when I say that every New Year, I travel back in time to one night and one boy. Occasionally, I’ll think about him other times as well - like when I’m on an airplane and I get a jolt in the pit of my stomach reminding me that he’s now a first officer for an international airline, or any time I see someone driving a that car, with those “sexy tail lights,” as he called them, or when I listen to Something Corporate, like we did in high school and the line about 11:11 comes up, like the wallpaper on his phone.

But on New Year’s I’m not thinking about it. It doesn’t feel like a memory, or something that happened seven years ago. Each year I relive those moments as though they were occurring right now. We were just sixteen, but it feels so present.

New Year’s is my biggest time travel trigger. I’ll have brief moments where I’m brought back other times. I’ll smell cinnamon and instantly I’m hanging ornaments on the Christmas tree, feet bare, while an apple kuchen bakes in the oven. I’ll trip quickly and instead I’m falling on my neck again, a failed back flip in gymnastics practice.

Colors do it. Sounds. All my senses have the power to bring me back, if for just a whisper of a moment. Like memories, some of them fade. The triggers weaken or become reassociated with newer moments in time. Chalkdust that used to bring me to a childhood full of driveway murals instead pulls me back to my recent apartment’s front stoop. The scent of smoke that drew me into campfire songs replaced with contraband fireworks exploding in a gravel pit.

Makes me wonder, Is this all just a trip right now, triggered by some series of musical notes in the future?

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