The time traveler’s wife*

When I was younger I had a perpetuous feeling that something more than my thoughts lived inside my body. I constantly felt like all the people I’ve met who put a milestone on my life or skin intertwined, became one with each other while being still so different in their calling, in their late voices and momentary silences. In my cells, down the tunnels of my vessels, I have marked the cartography of an open teritory where the past, present and future became a plain that my heart populated with life long fantasies and more or less friendly ghosts. As writing would grow into a vivid obsession and necessity I showed generosity to my phantoms. I was patient, although my prose wasn’t. I let them stay, like I let coffee stale for many days before I wash the cup, I let them hunt and chase inside and out of my map, because I knew, these will never be what people like to call history. But they did go, and the geography of my thoughts changed. I will meet it, in this relative future, and greet it, like a new world. But I will never forget or deny the hundreds of yards of memory, the people and the soundtrack of each of them that live in the city inside. I remember I once wanted to get away, it was 2008 and trains were so much cheaper. I later thought my city would have followed, because I wore it in my rib cage.

I stopped later one day buying into all the “Fuck the past” and “There’s only one way – ahead” motivational syntax we are offered in order to move on or move forward. I told myself, what is the use? If you can’t go down all the way into your insides, be there a battle, ruin or flood, you won’t ever make it outside, to the top. We have selective memory, not lobotomy features available to our brains. There is no use in trying to forget, to detach, to remove. Our memories, with the charge of our latent emotions, with the touch of dreams, define us.

We have no actual past or present. They both take hold of our future without us being able to control it much. Everything we’ve been, everyone we loved eventually meets everything and everyone we are. We are places, cities, galaxies that change all the time and yet remain the same, in a circle, for better or for worse. And that is our greatest, most empowering gift. We are the lightning in April cold rain and the starry chandeliers of countryside forgotten fields in July nights. We are storms in our tea cups and blizzards to other lifelines. Or like Anais Nin put it, “we do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present”. We are time travelers of our own map. Forwards, backwards, forgetting to look at the whole, at the big picture. Because when we do, if we do, we realize it’s the most empowering thing. And then we’re free.

 

*The time traveler’s wife is a book by Audrey Niffenegger published in 2003. It speaks of long-distance love, our stellar condition and Violent Femmes.
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