I walked into a bathroom stall at work the other day and I had this flashback to 2007 and walking into the makeshift women’s bathroom in a warehouse where I worked. I could smell the perma-sawdust, the hint of paint chemicals, I could see the cigarette ashes left on the toilet seat. I was there again. I was me again, but not me. I was past me and present me all at once.
It was only a moment. The time it took to unbutton my pants. It was a blip, but it was not an isolated incident.
I am constantly flipping between the past and present, sometimes I am living in both at the same time. I am a time traveler. I am the me of now and yesterday and the day before and the year before and on and on and on.
I am me, broken by some random boyfriend, sleeping with the window open wide, letting the street noise wake me up in my parents guest room. I am her as the baby’s cry wakes me up and I poke at Kamel that it is his turn, “I promise to get up tomorrow. Promise, promise, promise.” And the sun from our east facing window has the same exact angle through the half open blinds into a bedroom I now share, with the same amount of clothes dropped here and there on the floor.
I am the same and not the same. I am trying to dry off in an empty bathroom, on an empty floor in one the buildings at my university after getting caught in an unfortunate downpour without a hood or an umbrella. I am trying to look pseudo-professional as I prepare myself for office hours where almost no one will come and I will try and sleep on the floor of the professor’s office. I am her when I walk into my new office building, hoping not to be more than a minute late as I stop off to buy an orange juice. And I am not her.
I hear “Live in the moment!” and I can’t understand it. There are brief times, yes, where I think, “This is it. This is something. I’m going to remember this later as one of those BIG moments. I’ll remember exactly how the sun was on your arm, exactly how this smells, exactly what we were all talking about.” But then mostly I don’t. I only remember that I thought I would.
Even then, I’m living there and also somewhere, ambiguously, mysteriously into the future.