Time has stretched over the frame of my story like the skin of a large animal, a cloak, a worn in quilt. Somethings are not granted that kind of elasticity: food, sleep, the brief transition from summer to winter where it is cool and light and the air smells like it rained but it didn’t. I sing in my sleep now. Twenty years old and still do not know how to shed fear. Old things I haven’t ever addressed grow big and burly in boxes of my mind, stacked like doll house furniture. Some things don’t die when you neglect them, some things grow more and more carnivorous with each passing day of starving, neglect boosts them, strengths them. I said I sing in my sleep but it is to the wailing inside. Fajr time peels away the darkness and each morning I am surprised. Why I am I cannot answer you. Old windows are drafty, old things beak down, good things don’t always. God says the end of time is when it all wildly unravels, like an avalanche, like a fast rewind on an old cassette tape, time skipping and stuttering and people re-morphing into things they do not recognize.
Shopping malls are like snapshot museums. You know, what was fashionable last editorial cycle, what quick trashy cheap things people want to buy. They never hit the nail the head anymore. Physical life is always one step behind the digital. Good things that don’t go out of style are food and pajamas. Good food doesn’t stop being good because a model in New York was spotted with a mouth full of quinoa, or someone telling you that eating carbs will kill you. Pizza, good hot warm, cheesy delightful pizza is still pizza. Sin is still sin. You can choose to refuse its delights but that doesn’t wane off in the same ways as other, more plastic things.
I should recycle more, I tell myself. So I try. The thing is I need to buy another trashcan for it. Which sounds ironic but recycle is still trash at the end of the day. It’s just guilt-lite trash, the kind you can get rid of and not feel AS terrible as you might otherwise. I think about my footprint a lot. The other day I caught myself pining away at a Zara sale and I stopped myself. Too many things to worry about in the world it seems. My whole body is fatigued. Every collective of trees seems to be on fire these days. Burning, burning, burning, and the end creeps nearer.
I laugh at myself, planning the future like it is my own, like I hold the deed to another 5 years, like you can pay mortgage on even your twenties. Who knows if this earth will even be here, I say to myself, as I thoughtlessly imagine motherhood or children, or graduation in a few months. I spend too much time lamenting the past and chewing the future, my father tells me. I don’t know if that is a me thing, or a young woman thing, or a young human thing, or just a today thing. Who knows? I am trying to get better at that, I am. Counting things I am grateful for, learning to let go, learning to ride a bike or drive a car or pull my luggage up market street without my knuckles looking so frightfully white. I always hold on too hard. Too hard to things that don’t belong to me. Too long to things I don’t have and don’t deserve. Things that distract me, I miss the point all the time and I groan at the shame in that.
Today I ate. I slept. I brushed my teeth. I read something meaningful. I laughed (even if alone). I walked. I studied and I did something important. Sure, there are a thousand things left to do but that’s the nature of a number as large as that you just seem to never really get through it before another list begins to create itself.
So what if I don’t get exactly this or exactly that. I lived! I moved! I prayed! I loved! These are things worth counting too just as much as the General Ed requirements left to check off and the last of the college courses to sign up for. Somewhere, far along the rest of the timeline, bend back over the hand of my own ending, I will be able to say, yes, I did things worth being proud of: things that lasted. Things I felt and will honor as such.
I don’t know if I believe that but perhaps, if you say a thing often it fuses with every joint of your own cosmology and becomes just as true as rain, as leaves, as silence and sound.