Thursday, June 4, 2009

On Time and Impermanence

Time is a devouring tiger, a ruptured balloon left lying on the floor at the end of a string. Rotting food, tooth decay, time is something to be railed against, manipulated, cursed, counted.

A photo of me with my mother, circa 1976ish.

There was a day in Costa Rica that it rained. It rained everyday at some point, the sky lit up with flashes and roiling with thunder. But one day we stayed in the pool and swam in the rain. Bryan and I held Zoey and I could not tell what was what, the rain, the pool water, the air, our skin: it was all hot and sticky and alive. Remember this. I closed my eyes to take a mental picture. Remember this day. Remember this rain. Remember this time. Zoey giggled and we sang a song, this corny one we made up about being a family, and my mind scrambled to remember. And now I sit at this table and think of that day and what I remember most is the act of rememberance. Not the song or the splash of raindrops in the pool, but the way I closed my eyes for the briefest of moments trying to live outside of time.
The cliches are too true. It goes by so fast and I feel myself trying to hold on to something that is essentially impermanent, making concrete something of no substance. (Last night Zoey got too close to the stove when I was cooking and I snapped at her. Today she is at daycare and I miss the smell of her hair.) Remember this. When I close my eyes I can no longer see.
In high school I had a friend who was a boy but he was not my boyfriend. Let's call him Carl. Carl had a girlfriend who was not his friend. Let's call her Jane. Carl loved me, or so he said. On the phone, at school, I love you, he said, and I loved being told he loved me. Oh Carl, I would say back, world-weary and not the slightest bit in love with my friend. I don't mean to imply that I was some sort of teenage femme fatale because I wasn't. I wasn't the prettiest girl or the smartest, not the funniest and certainly not the most athletic. I was just a girl and sometimes that's all it takes to be loved.
We hung out at a coffee shop. I pretended to like coffee and drank it black. One night Carl's girlfriend Jane said something about how she wondered where the excess denim went when you got a hole in your jeans. She picked at the knee of her pants as she said it and I said something about how I often wondered the same thing about falling down and skinning your knee. Where does your skin go? Is it left smeared across the pavement? Carl looked at me and laughed and I realized suddenly that he thought I was making fun of Jane, and he was looking at me and laughing as if we were in on a joke together and the joke was Jane. So I laughed back at him and let him believe. But now I drink chocolate milk in the morning and I have to confess that I still wonder where the skin goes and if the world is maybe made up of thin threads of lost denim.
I don't know why I told that story, what it has to do with anything. I was sixteen and a jerk. Now I'm 36 and will freely admit to knowing very little. Buddhists would say that we are all living and dying at the same moment, living-dying, if you wish, that time begins and ends at each moment. That it is futile to close your eyes to remember. Time is not a one-dimensional sequence of events but a series of infinitesimally small independent moments that move in relation to each other. The whole process of living-dying is in this moment. Now. As my daughter is in daycare. Zoey the baby, Zoey the toddler, Zoey the girl, the woman--they are only separated by shadows, not reality, threads of an insequential string.

I know this and still, I sit here picking at my jeans wondering where it all goes. Where it all went, and how can I capture it forever.

18 comments:

Sarah Danielle: Jeune Marie said...

I thought that was Zoey in the first picture!! That is insane how alike you look - well, I guess it's not... you are her mother and all, but you look identical. That is special, indeed!

Aartee said...

Such a great post....You and Zoey look so similar...I thought it was her in the first picture too!

Richie Designs said...

yes indeed

krista said...

this is such a beautiful post. i wonder sometimes whether or not anyone remembers the same things i remember. or if it's just me...

Your Ill-fitting Overcoat said...

Gosh, you and Zoey look just alike as babies! I hope she grows up to be as pretty as her mama, too. I'm sure she will, in way or another.

Vanessa said...

Susannah, I am so insanely jealous of your writing. You're great.

amber {daisy chain} said...

so well said. I find myself realizing these moments more and more as the years go by, I guess we just start to see what's most important!

ModernMommaBlog said...

I just found your blog. It's beautiful. Your writing is lovely. Tasha

nicole said...

beautiful!

alissa said...

you're such a beautiful writer - im saving this post for someday when im a mother :)

Kate said...

Through all the craziness of being a mother to a 6 (almost 7, in 2 days!) old boy,sometimes i forget to stop and breath. Thank you for reminding me why i love being a mother so much and how time moves on too impossibly fast.

Evie said...

that was a lovely piece of writing.

Emilie said...

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Emilie
Cute Obsession

Katie said...

Beautiful post!

topsyturvydays said...

A lovely, lovely, post.

My boys finish Kindergarten next week and I'm feeling some intense emotions. I can't believe how fast this year has gone by.

And, it is so eerie how much you look like Zoey or Zoey looks like you!

The Lil Bee said...

I'm always trying to close my eyes and remember. I tell myself I need to do yoga more, take more walks, be more centered. The older I get, the quicker the time seems to go.

Kari said...

Beautiful

duelliving.blogspot.com/ said...

I don't have a picture of my mother holding me...so I borrowed yours and cried. You may forget those tiny precious moments...but, let me tell you...Zoey never will.

I started my own blog, I hope you'll like it and visit often. My family means the world.