Sometimes it is hard to remember what time it is – suddenly it could be any year, or no particular year at all. Your pen slips and a date comes out without thinking, one you blink at and hurriedly erase, before anyone around you realizes you have time traveled, snuck sideways without their permission into a pocket of time that fits you so well it is hard to tell you have been somewhere else at all. An accidental slip of the foot can take you there, as though some moments wear the precise shape of your body, need only for you to relax to absorb you like a well-worn mattress, the homey lump of elbows left in wool.
Some people say time is not linear as we would like to believe - a straight chute for us to glide down to our gleaming destiny - but circular, or even more perplexing, snarled like a ball of yarn, criss-crossing and curlicuing like the cobbled streets of a French town. I used to push these descriptions away, disliking the jumbled, chattering way they made me feel. But now, in my twenty-sixth year, I am having the slow and unnerving realization that I am living all moments of my life simultaneously, whether I agree to it or not: the trapped, leathery feeling of the family car trip when I was seven, Dad exploding at a rest stop, shoulders huge before me in their plaid shirt, the landscape shocked in snow outside. That flash of whiteness and my subsequent crumbling will leap at me sometimes, clutching my chest. When a man looks at me with a certain blank disdain, or when anger freezes his jawbone. When I am in the backseat of a car going much too fast.
I seem to be foraging in the dark soil of the future as well, running my fingers through its pebbles and leaves unwittingly, here and there making acquaintance with an astonished root or vine, following it up to the surface…
Just today, I wrote the date as 2011, a year ahead. Some part of me knows I will be writing then, worrying about the future, trying to wring sorrow from the past, too busy tunneling into time to notice for more than an astonishing instant that I have already arrived.