Time Got Strange
His face screwed up in concentration, before he shook his head and uttered, “I don’t know. Time got strange, and I don’t remember.”
Then he laughed, that laugh we have when trying to recall life in the Before. I laughed, too, because what else are we going to do? We all got stuck in a loop a few years ago.
Now I don’t remember what I’d asked him, my host in Dobrota, Montenegro, communicating in his third language, some months ago. Probably something pretty mundane, but his response has stuck with me, because time, indeed, got strange.
My friend turns fifty today. I turn fifty at the end of the summer. We were little girls, once, meeting each other for the first time on the playground. Neither of us remember it.
This past weekend, the switch flipped, and it’s summer, even though it’s not yet summer on the calendar, and today dawned cold. I don’t remember the winter anymore, spring fades like lilacs. I had to keep reminding myself of the day and the year, because, honestly, I had no idea when I was.
My parents grow older. My nephew, who will be old enough to drive soon, too. I remember thinking when he was born, When he’s old enough to drive, I’ll be fifty. It seemed so far away that it made me screw up my face to think about it.
Summer comes, and it’s like all the summers before, and like no time has passed at all. I walked this weekend down to the old beach where I spent most of my summers in my childhood, and it looks like a foreign country.
And, yet, I can still see my ghost there, faintly, the day that my Pop-Pop died just before my fourteenth birthday, my uncle gently chastising me for stuffing down my feelings and having fun with my friends. He didn’t know that part of me broke off that day and lives at the beach, trying to be a kid for one more day. Still trying to keep everything where it belonged.
Or maybe, he does know now, for he’s beyond, too. He’s now been gone for more than twenty years.
Time got strange.
I read somewhere that time as we know it is a lie—we live our lives in linear time, but time is beyond our experience. Backwards and forwards, everything has already happened and has not happened yet.
So maybe time didn’t get strange at all. Maybe time just is strange.
Time just is.