I just recently lost a whole week of my life.
I missed my deadline for writing up a manuscript critique for one of my critique-mates. I missed paying the phone bill. I also, clearly, missed my turn at writing a blog entry. (See date. Darn.) It wasn’t just a case of the week getting away from me. That is a familiar scenario. That happens often enough. No, I actually felt like the week disappeared. Disappeared from the calendar, disappeared from my line of vision, and disappeared from my memory. And when I finally realized that I had missed it, it took me some focused energy to piece together what had transpired during those seven days. Which was a lot. Of course.
Because it turns out that the week had not disappeared at all. It was me who had gone missing.
How does that happen? Think Rebecca Stead’s amazing novel When You Reach Me. How does time fold in on itself from both ends so that there is a space in the middle that vanishes from view?
Maybe it is easier to understand why that vanishing act doesn’t happen. I think it has something to do with our relationship to our surroundings, to our routine and to our landscape. Here, in Vermont, it is clear when winter transitions to spring. The snow melts, the mittens go back into the cupboard, the green shoots of the crocuses poke out of the ground. Time unfolds before our eyes, which makes it infinitely easier to keep track of. And when the rhythm of the routine is in full swing—for instance, when I get up in the morning, get the kids off to school, go for my run, work, come home, go to track with the kids, make dinner, and go to bed—when that happens day in and day out I can feel the way time moves and I can keep up with it.
But watch out if we have a long stretch of rain, like we just did. Wake up and the world is grey, have lunch and it is still grey, go to bed…yup…to grey. It is hard to know what time it is. Or a kid gets sick, or there is an end-of-the-year picnic at the school, or we go off on a trip. Bingo. That time-folding-in-on-itself thing happens.
And so I wonder if time travel has something to do with disconnecting from the landscape. Like taking your eyes off of the horizon and then losing your bearings. Or unfurling your fingers’ hold on the dirt in the garden, and the trees on the path.
Am I right?
Only time will tell.