The Here and Now

I have long since lost track of the day of the week, and the great events that must be taking place in the world we left behind are as illusory as events from a future century. It is not so much that we are going back in time as time seems circular, and past and future have lost meaning….In these mountains we have fallen behind history.

Peter Matthiessen, The Snow Leopard

Matthiessen loses track of time in Nepal, on a journey that becomes his Buddhist path. I get it, this living in the moment because everything else has fallen away. I’ve lost my past–I know I have memories but they are locked behind a door–and I can’t make any sense of what I do know of my past, anyway. The future is just too horrible a chasm to even seriously entertain. There is only now. So I’m living in the moment without any of the mindfulness or meditative experience to get me here. I feel outside time, without any of the enlightenment that comes with that.

I feel like the kids and I just tumbled out and landed here, like we are shipwrecked, but nevertheless here we are, duly equipped. One day I pulled away from a parallel parking space in town, and I thought, “How did I get here?” not to that parking space, but to this town. Why do I live here? Why is this my home? I actually had to walk through the story–grad school, interview, moved here, daughter was born here, etc.

My body retains the memories. Today I drove the kids 45 minutes to get their annual school shoes at the lovely little old-fashioned shoe store that we’ve been going to for years. I know that we do that, so I did it.  When we pulled into the tiny parking lot–a few spaces behind an old house–I barked, “Get out. Close the door. Wait for me.” Then I cried. I wailed. I didn’t even know why, except the pain came rising and I let it out. I dried my eyes and the kids got fitted for shoes. As I looked at their old shoes next to their new shoes, I muttered, “They got so big,” and know I’d said that, every time.


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