Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A Haunting Now

I walk into the front room to put on my shoes as I look forward to meeting my friends John, Tim, and Howard, at the Daily Grind Espresso Bar and Coffee Shop. On Saturday mornings it is my regular haunt and we do the New York Times Saturday crossword puzzle. Sure, we could each do it alone, and probably faster, but then we’d miss the camaraderie and jocose cajolery that makes the morning bright.

As I reach for my shoes I notice the folder and textbook for my Thursday writing class sitting on the table by the door. I reorient myself, “That’s right, it’s Thursday morning and I have to go to my Creative Writing class.” I chuckle at how airheaded I can be sometimes. I admire myself selfishly in a self-congratulatory manner. I’ve developed this trick for making sure I make it wherever I need to be, and as a fail-safe back-up, to simultaneously bring whatever I need to bring, to wherever I’m going. I put what I need to bring to wherever I’m going next, on the table by the door. I make it a habit to always look at the table to see if anything is there. If something is there, then I know that is what I’m doing next.

This works for me because I don’t have a problem remembering why I put things on the table, but when I am rushing out the door to go someplace, I frequently am thinking about the trip and then I forget what I need to bring. Its primary benefit is to remind me where I am going next. I usually know when I’m supposed to be where, but the “now” is ever changing. I’m trapped in this ‘now’ and the rest of the world hurtles by me. It is like I’m sitting in a train car and can only see to the side, never ahead and never behind. It might seem exhilarating, blithely embracing whatever the ‘now’ hands to you, but it is actually a colossal pain in the ass.

Waah waah, a tragedy. Acknowledge and forge ahead. Today is not that day. Today I have coolly and deftly sidestepped a catastrophe. My scheme has worked, my life is smooth. I hop in my truck and head off to class. As I pull on to the freeway I notice I’m about an hour early, oops, I’m still on coffee shop time. It occurs to me that I have not read the next assignment and I calmly appreciate the serendipitous consequence of air-headedly thinking it was Saturday, I now have time to read the assignment. I also appreciate the 11:30am class time as it allows me to avoid rush hour traffic, which more than just an inconvenience, is unsafe for me as my reaction time isn’t that good. Actually, my reaction time isn’t really that bad, it just takes me longer to process the visual information I’m taking in, but the end result is the same. I smile, that is not a problem I need to worry about this time.

I exit off the freeway and head into downtown Minneapolis. Something isn’t right, is this a holiday, there is almost no traffic? No that can’t be, not on a Thursday. Maybe there was another 911 type event. I can’t handle the distraction of a radio when I drive. Having the radio on, it’s as if someone is sitting beside me tapping my shoulder saying, “Hey! Hey! Hey! So if the Russians attack, I won’t know about it until I see a mushroom cloud. This thought makes me smile as I realize that my Cold War mentality ages me.

I pull into the parking ramp, pay my five bucks and park. Score! I get rock star parking, today is a good day. And then heady realization surges through me like an overpressure wave. Temporal vertigo. This is not Thursday, This is in fact, Saturday. I do not have a writing class on Thursday morning in Minneapolis, I have a Lit class Thursday night in Saint Paul. I had absent mindedly left my homework out last night. The contrast is startling, instantly I have gone from mastery of my world, to the victim of a harlequin’s mad dream. “No!” I scream silently, “not again, not still, this is so hard and I am so tired. I don’t want to be brain injured anymore.” Supplication admits of no absolution, and reality is such a fickle whore. “Why does this have to be my reality? I want the one I had when I left the house. Why don’t I get to keep THAT reality?”

“Because an easy life is worth what you pay for it.”

“Go to Hell.” I hate being me sometimes.

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