Tracing the outline of a tiny penciled-in flower in my notebook, I’m listening to some guy speak stale office speak on a video call as my mind drifts out the open window into the honeyed springtime air of late afternoon. It’s a little after three and I’m already fading into fantasies of a smooth glass of wine in the back garden as the setting tangerine sunlight glistens along the water-beaded stem.
My mind just stops these days. Where I used to go, go, go on to the next, now I am halted in body and spirit by a peculiar feeling I have never known before. A feeling like an uncomfortably extended dramatic pause. It is the sensation of a life suspended, suddenly stilled, thrown into stark relief. An inability to move as the rest of the world appears to be rushing by without so much as a sideways glance in my direction.
I am left behind.
No, I am being left behind.
It is a process I am forced to watch happening over and over and over each day. Rewind and repeat. While there are those who fetishize a return to normal, there are also those of us who know that would be a terrible mistake. We wonder how we got here in the first place. Too many wrong turns down dark and ruinous roads.
We always think we will see it coming or at least have some inkling, some clue about how far in which direction we should go. But there is no should and there is no road carved neatly along a path not yet taken.
Pouring a coffee, I exit the call and sink down into a pile of books wondering where to begin a thing which has long since already begun and ended a countless number of times before. This life, they’ll have you fooled well into believing it is a straight line when nothing could be farther from the truth. How often the future ends up tossing you three steps back even as the ghosts of the past loom larger in your mind than they may appear in the rear view mirror.
I remember the first warm Sunday afternoon of the season, driving fast with the windows down, swaths of sunlight rushing across his face, cast down through the trees which line the edges of an empty old riverside town. We laugh as we race the back roads just to feel like we’re getting somewhere. To make the rings around our circuitous lives stretch and blur until they finally disappear.