Memory No.2: When Time Stands Still

When Time Stands Still: 

We Westerners are in a constant state of constipation. It is almost as though are bodies are crying for us to refuse the values we’ve been spoon-fed since adolescents. When I wake up each morning, instead of forcing myself, as I formerly did, to confine a day’s worth of activities before noon, I’ve allowed myself space to move. 

Definitions, those sound nice. Even the saying not everything’s black or white sounds soothing to my palate. Until the night creeps up on the day and my pinpointing the moment in which this shift occurs is untraceable when my minutes are cluttered with tasks, so my mouth goes sour. Because there is a slick undefinable division between day and night, I have what I imagine lead would taste like resting on my tongue. We never stop to wait, ever. 

A fixation you could call it. I want to know why certain moments rest in our bellies like a salty smooth broth filling our inner-selves warm. And so, I began to track those moments where things felt oh so slow. 

My buzzer sends small slaps to my ear drum till I slap it shut and walk into the living room. A woman in the screen waits for me calling me to meditate. I roll out a plastic mat and move through the fluid motions like on robot mode, until it clicks. Somewhere between thirty and forty my breath begins to kick in like a human humidifier cleansing out my toxins with spurts of lavender off my tongue. 

For more than a week now I’ve noticed a pink smudge on the window across the street continually wondering what could possibly be floating mid-air. I made time and wandered to the other side like a kid fulfilling their youthful curiosity, and kicked my chin upward to peer in three stories up. A loofa suctioned to the window displaying a bathroom for all to see, yet never have I seen anyone shower.

Perhaps you’d prefer to hear how time completely alters when I read Joan Didion, currently Slouching Towards Bethlehem. To imagine an author’s dialect shape your world if you read them too often or too fast is striking, but maybe you wouldn’t notice – slow down. So, I play some Joan Baez in the background. Then I’ve got my two Joans working magic. One of them is talking about the other, and I just can’t pinpoint whether she likes her or not. Placing Didion’s chapter “Life Styles in the Golden Land: Where the Kissing Never Stops” in the framework of a little girl’s mind, I truly speculate what Didion thinks of good ol’ Baez. But she’s singing about Dylan and she’s singing about pain, so time isn’t here right now with the three of us.

If you didn’t like that one how about I tell you a short story. Not a question because here I go. On a Wednesday night, around six fifty-six I strolled into my fiction workshop class with the weight of two exams and societal expectations resting on my chest. It was late and I had just walked blocks in darkness thinking of how the dark would darken to pitch black, and I imagined how sore my shins would be when I arrived home at nine forty-five because girls walking alone never finish their walk without sore bones. This night would rush by I knew it. I wouldn’t savor a bite of discussion because the odds were against it at this point. A tally would not be given to this moment that much was clear. 

Until I started communicating for once, and I was hooked. As if the devil that was my exam and society’s remarks slipped within my chest, my thoughts began to slide off my tongue, and I felt oddly confident. Never had speaking amongst a room of strangers felt so natural. There sat fourteen other people around this long table that just so happened to transform into a tiny shuttle. Goodbye time because class went by, and not in the way I had anticipated. All our comments bounced off one another like fuel pushing us beyond orderly constraints.

As I left that space of weird pace, I thought of the only moment within that room that felt slower than the rest. He mentioned that he observed a house with lavender like window panels, and a matching door. This house was plopped within the row of brick rectangles called buildings, called homes if you could imagine. He wondered what type of individual may reside within the comfort of those colors. She could be an atrocious character for all we knew, but the possibility of colors reflecting a sort of kindness sat with me. And as he spoke of the characteristics of the outside shell – the shutters, the grass, the surrounding houses – I imagined the type of woman who might live within those shutters of smooth light purple. She seemed to be the type that used charcoal scrubs and homemade honey spoons to dip in tea. She wasn’t a child, as she owned a house, so perhaps she wore a short bob hair-style that she pinned up when painting objects that she had found throughout her day. A coffee stain accumulating below the space where no coaster resided on her left, and she’d paint her hours gone. We can imagine people like that when we slow down because our imagination is the type of thing that interrupts us without permission. 

Can you imagine someone you already know? I thought of Rebecca. She was fifty and had white hair better than those chemicals which continually dye what’s true fake. That’s who I envisioned as I sat there and listened to my professor. I learned in a moment of utter standstill that déjà vu can occur from someone speaking to you. A corner of an image described to you and you can see the entire portrait raw before your lids. How strange to think of time flinging you back in formerly experienced periods.

During break I told my teacher of the time I had experienced something similar. My childhood was never stagnant, but for the years in which I stayed most stable, I remember passing this one house on my way to school. It was pink and covered in little detailed pieces of décor. Ducks, gnomes, mushrooms, swirls, you name it. It covered the lawn, flowed onto the deck, and into the house displayed out through the windows. It was the living magic amongst the bland of cookie cutter affluent houses. Those days in which I felt so out of place by the non-designer hem of my blouse in comparison to my classmate’s, I found solace in knowing that someone else within this town was odd and by choice for that matter. I met the owner of that home nearly ten years later when I found myself living near that same town. She was a co-worker of mine. Oddly, I was her manager; the manager of an artist living within her own art. We made coffee. When we drank coffee, I’d ask about her fifty years of living learning about how she raised five children, how she shifted from pot to Christ, and how she always dreamt of working with coffee. The setting shifted from the walls of our workspace, to the jeweled panels of her kitchen where we kneaded bread and baked pies. Her kitchen was on the second floor of the house, and her dining room adjacent seemingly floating mid-air, as it was surrounded by trees caressing the wall of windows. Not knowing where room and backyard air divided, we found ourselves encased by the scent of our baked goods. It was as though our stories were baked within these treats to be shared with those who would come to eat them. Perhaps, prompting a sort of Deja vu by bite. We can’t be sure.

I can, however, be sure that in the mornings after I shower and I rub mixes of argan and jojoba oil across my pores in circular motions or when I steep my tea three times too many that time slows down between sips and swirls. Time almost diminishes when I become that woman sipping dark liquids, while painting and listening to music too simple for my cool peers interested in compilations made on tech-board type things. When I mince shallots and drizzle them over heated oil to hear a hissing choir sing, I sincerely feel halted.

I sit in this so called gray and only force myself to stop searching for definitions because small mementos of hours shape themselves holy, and so I save them with a tally on a notepad counting the times in which I have felt completely at rest. 

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