Time Traveled, And Time Honored

Sunset Two days ago, perched by the window at one of my favorite spots for a Sunday morning croissant, I overheard two older ladies nearby. They were discussing the passage of time. "I can't believe how fast this year is going," one of them said. "I take a trip, come back, suddenly it's the end of the month."

Of course, this sort of conversation isn't radical to me; at the end of every year I inevitably hear myself marveling that it's gone by more rapidly than the one before it (and the older we get, the faster it seems to slip away). But it was the fact that this woman attached her sense of vanishing time to travel, which is something I can relate to more than ever after spending the last month doing just that.

It was mostly on-off travel, but between prepping for one trip, that time away, coming home, reconnecting with [at least the necessary aspects of ] life in New York, before getting ready to embark on the next...it felt like I pretty much traveled my month away—or my month traveled away from me as I remained in some lofty, airborne holding pattern.

Before I go any further, I should say that every time I got on an airplane, every time I landed in a new destination, I was grateful for the excursion and excited to be taking it; I love to travel. But as I've gotten older, I've become increasingly cognizant of time, most especially how quickly it goes by. It's the reason I spend two hours in a French cafe on a quiet Sunday morning, dissecting a single croissant, methodically pulling apart the butter-crisp shell, then tugging my way through the fleshy layers as pauses between sections of the New York Times. It's why leaving town these days—if I'm being truthful with myself—sometimes brings me as much anxiety as it does joy. And why for every night spent away, I want a night back at home, usually with nothing to do.

It's why I often find myself romanticizing those early years in high school, when I didn't have my driver's license yet. Growing up in the middle of nowhere, with no friends within walking distance, Friday nights were a drag, mollified only ever so slightly by the TGIF lineup on tv. But now I miss that boredom—those nights of nothing! What a treat!

Of course it's easier to be nostalgic now. It's easier to look at it, now that we have so much stimulus right at our fingertips and say, "Oh, I miss those days of boredom." And really, maybe that's what all this is a symptom of: over-stimulation, FOMO (I loathe that term, but understand its presence in our cultural consciousness), and ultimately our desire to have it all. I want the peace and the excitement. I want new adventures and the comforts of home. I want to socialize, and I want time to myself. I want yesterday back, but I can't wait for whatever tomorrow brings.

And as I write this, I don't know how much time has passed, nor do I really care. For now, I'm just happy to be in the present.

 

I had a dream last night I dreamt that I was swimming And the stars up above Directionless and drifting Somewhere in the dark Were the sirens and the thunder And around me as I swam The drifters who’d gone under

Time, love Time, love Time, love It’s only a change of time

I had a dream last night And rusting far below me Battered hulls and broken hardships Leviathan and Lonely I was thirsty so I drank And though it was salt water There was something ‘bout the way It tasted so familiar

Time, love Time, love Time, love It’s only a change of time

The black clouds I’m hanging This anchor I’m dragging The sails of memory rip open in silence We cut through the lowlands All hands through the saltlands The white caps of memory Confusing and violent

I had a dream last night And when I opened my eyes Your shoulder blade, your spine Were shorelines in the moon light New worlds for the weary New lands for the living I could make it if I tried I closed my eyes I kept on swimming

Time, love Time, love Time, love It’s only a change of Time, love Time, love Time, love It’s only a change of time

— Josh Ritter, "Change Of Time"

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