TIME AS A BRAID OF OUR LIVES
Robert R. Chase
My wife used to explain to her friends that I have always been adrift in time. This is less dramatic than it sounds. Like everyone, I live in the present and look forward to the future. However, my memories are usually no more precise than to distinguish between the near past and far past. Ask me how long I have been taking pills for blood pressure and I will probably say ten years, but it could just as easily be fifteen or more. I can usually remember in detail stories I have read or movies I have seen, but it is only with difficulty and utilizing something akin to Holmesian deduction that I can remember the circumstances under which I read or saw them. It is almost as if I apprehended them outside of time, straight from the Platonic substrate, as it were.
Meg was never like that. For her, time was a rigid matrix imprinted directly on her brain. Because of her, I never missed an appointment or a payment. But there were disadvantages as well. Her mother died on February 27th. For years afterward, February 27th would be a dark day. On that day, she seemed to experience the loss anew.
She would be darkly amused to learn that October 3rd has become that date for me.
Now that she was gone, I kept track of bills by writing the due dates on the envelope and filing them in order. Notes on a calendar took care of other obligations. Much to the surprise of some people, I was actually able to handle the basics of running my life.
My daughter, Tina, was one of the most surprised. She visited every weekend and regaled me with stories of bureaucratic snafus at her exotic government R&D agency. Her ostensible reason for visiting was to cook me a decent meal and give me some company. Both were undoubtedly true reasons, but from the way she looked at the papers on my desk and the tenor of certain questions she tried to slip oh so casually into conversation, I could tell she was looking for signs of everything from depression to Alzheimer’s.
“Look,” I said finally. At that moment, a commercial came on the television and the sound volume increased, even though I was pretty certain the FCC had a rule against that. This was the one where two guys walk into a bar and ask for a beer, but the bartender says he has never heard of beer and offers them some sort of lemon lime alcopop instead. I grabbed the remote and muted it.
“Look,” I began again, “I’m always glad to see you, but don’t you want to spend your weekends with your friends? What about that guy, Jimmy, that you were dating?”