Time has always really freaked me out. I think it is that I can get on a plane and travel back and forth through time zones. Or maybe it is that I don’t really understand how we all agree upon this thing called time and how inexact and precise it can be at the same time. It really hit me a year ago today, on the eve of a new year while sitting in a basement in Portland, Oregon.
I had just spent a wonderful two days in Seattle, Washington before taking a train down to PDX for a friend’s party I thought I had been welcomed to join. Well, let’s just say I was wrong. Not only did I get uninvited to my friend’s party, but the humiliation was witnessed by my hosts whom I considered my family. Lucky for me, however, they took me in on short notice and adjusted their “going out on the town” plans to “staying home” plans. You can’t erase a sting like that though. The trip had mostly been planned around celebrating the new year with what I thought to be my best friend at the time.
Fast forward and you would find me in that basement, lounging on the couch with the sounds of heated conversation and mixed drinks floated down from the party upstairs. I had received a phone call from my friend in snowy Chicago. As he shouted, “Happy New Year!” I realized he was calling me from the future. I sat in Oregon in the year 2008 and he in Illinois in the year 2009. This baffled me for a moment. It also made me scared. Time and space are entities we have no choice but to surrender to. You can’t slow down time. You can’t stop it. It keeps going, with or without you. It has rules that we abide by. And so I came to this question: How do I match myself up against time?
The obvious answer is what we do every time this day comes around: we reminisce. I have spent much of the past week thinking about how badly I want 2009 to be over already. As if the passing of time really fixes the bad things we try to forget about that have happened to us in a year’s time or more. This became particularly apparent to me as I found remnants of 2008 strewn across my closet floor. In a pathetic attempt to forget, I had buried them deep in my closet. But as we know, these things come back to remind us that time has its grip on us and that someone will need to use that box you placed those things you wanted to forget in, leaving them exposed for you to find unexpectedly. And no matter how much time passes, it still hurts to remember the bad us humans do to each other year after year. Just when you think you have forgotten, you find that box of letters you meant to burn. Just when you think the wound has healed, you get a package in the mail that rips the sutures from the skin.
So what do we do? What does 2010 offer me that 2009 didn’t already take away? Well, I think there is always hope in new beginnings. Inevitably 2010 will be every bit as good and bad as 2009, but it’s the humans we meet along the way that make it worthwhile, whether they hurt us or not. I can only hope I get a call from the future tonight when someone reaches 2010 before I do. I can only hope that while I lost some people in 2009, that I can find more meaningful ones in 2010. But whether that happens or not, I can’t stop time. And I certainly can’t erase it. So 2010, please be kind to me. Or at least help me remember what matters.