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.