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July 11, 2011

Time Is a...

Time is a trickster. You look at the clock, turn away to your work, look at the clock again, and somehow it's two hours later and you're either a world away or else in exactly the same place, but hardly ever in between. Time almost never takes up exactly the amount of space you imagine it will--imagine it should--and even though you know this, you know better, you know it can't be trusted, you nevertheless pretend it's a reliable guide, uphold that time-honored (ah ha!) charade, treat it like a Sherpa on good recommend, all because you have to, because it's all you have, because it's all there is.

Time is a shapeshifter. Sometimes it's a hill, and I have to work three times as hard to go the ten paces I could skip across with no effort were it flat ground. Other times, though (and far too often lately), time is a slide and no matter how I dig in my heels to stop, or at least slow down, gravity plus the tilt of this patch of earth are pushing me, pushing you, faster, always faster, and if we're smart we'll want to pause everything--there's so much to see! so much to miss!--but if we're smarter we'll just forget our feet, pull our knees to our chests, lean back, open our eyes wide, and enjoy the ride. Because, see, it's not that kind of slide at all, it's a landslide--just the other side of that same hill. This is the yang, the answer to the question, Marco's Polo.

On Saturday as I got into bed at midnight (just home from a party in which it was truly a gift that Simon picked Moby Dick in Charades and I guessed it in ten seconds), I was remembering the fun we'd had reviewing photos from our professional portrait session, and for a few moments I really honestly thought that had happened days and days before instead of just earlier that morning. Every two weeks I get my time capsule email from Photojojo and more often than not see year-ago Wombat wearing the same shirts that he wears now, that I still think of as "new," and so no wonder they look so small/he looks so big. And then, say, I get a message from Will pointing me to a photo of us sitting on his couch taken almost six (or seven?!) years ago, and I realize I'm wearing that exact same jacket I'm wearing right damn now. This confuses me: Is it a sign of time moving too fast or time moving too slow? Or does it just mean that I need to go shopping?

Ever notice how five days of not working out is a blink, but five days of exercising until your fingers tingle seems like a month? Was the Fourth of July only a week ago? Have Simon and I lived in this house for four whole years?

Time is a magician. One day I looked at my kid, turned to my work, turned back to my kid and he was all of a sudden two and a half years old and spelling (spelling!) M-O-M, which is absurd for many reasons, but mostly because just earlier today he was saying "mama" for the first time. DOES NOT COMPUTE.

The Fourth of July used to be a bummer because I had a boyfriend who would promise to watch fireworks with me but then leave at the last minute to go camping with his buddies or get wasted at a party and not be able to drive home or get trapped somewhere with his family (who didn't like me), or else he'd just plain forget we were supposed to be celebrating together. Sometimes it feels like that all happened six months ago, but usually it feels like it was in some other lifetime. It was actually more like eight years ago (time, you little cheat), and in the years since then I've learned to expect less of that particular holiday and then always be pleasantly surprised when it turns out great.

July 4, 2006: Simon and I rode our beach cruisers to the Berkeley Marina to watch the fireworks with all the local crazies and were in the process of moving in together.

July 4, 2007: We watched fireworks from the attic of the brand new (old) house we'd closed on three days prior (and I blogged an entry very similar to this one, including a link back to a post from the previous Independence Day that was also similar).

July 4, 2009: Baby Wombat took his first dip in a swimming pool and sported a shark hairdo.

July 4, 2010: Toddler Wombat climbed over his crib rail and came waltzing into the kitchen like it was no big thing.

July 4, 2011: Preschooler Wombat got a shark hairdo and was allowed to run into the street for parade candy, and as the sun fell we drove to a park in Alameda, found a spot on the grass, each chose a different colored glowstick bracelet and, snuggled each in our own Snuggie, we hugged and huddled, all bundled together (huggle-bundled?) on the lawn watching the choreographed firework show against the Bay Bridge while, nearer to us, the lawless denizens of Oakland set off illegal shows that made a crazy music all their own. I held my little-big boy on my lap until my butt fell asleep and then transferred his thirty pounds to his daddy. He slept through most of the show but then chatted about it all the way home. That's the part I want to remember (and also the part about how the sprinklers turned on while the stragglers were still lounging, looking at the bright moon, just as we were pulling away, warm and dry and wide awake).

Time is an old man with a beard but it's also that baby in a top hat. Time is a taker but also a giver. Time is a gift horse (whatever that means), and I don't know about you, but I don't mind looking in the mouth because so often he's smiling.

4 Comments

It's amazing how quickly things seem to pass. I have nothing concrete to add, except that this is a beautiful post.

Beautiful writing. Thank you.

Fantastic post, exactly what I needed tonight was a little perspective. Lately I feel like I'm always chasing the next goal and not appreciating the one I just accomplished.

I still can't understand when my kid learned to walk, and make facial gestures. And when in the world did he grow teeth? Time baffles me constantly :)

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