“Time has no mercy. It’s there. It stays still or it moves.
And you’re there with it. Staying still or moving with it.
I think it moves. And we move with it. And keep moving.” ~ Simon J. Ortiz from “Time as Memory as Story”
Monday, late afternoon. Sunny, 68 degrees.
The ticking clock? What was I waiting for on Friday? News. A delivery. A decision.
The shipping company called Corey on Friday and said that they had an immediate opening if he had gotten his credentials back. The UPS tracking said that the package was due to be delivered that day. Should he stay or should he go? We decided that if everything worked out as far as timing, he should go.
In my heart, I knew that going back would be the only way that Corey would be able to redeem himself in his eyes. So we waited. The package was delivered around 3:45. Corey called his contact and left a message. On Sunday he got a call back: Expect to leave on Tuesday. Then he got another call: make that Monday night.
He left today at 2:54, going to Dulles, then to Copenhagen, then to Lithuania.
We checked and rechecked everything. He repacked to make his suitcase lighter. We checked again. If he didn’t have it by the time his baggage was checked at the counter, then he doesn’t have it. But we know for sure that he has his MMD, his passport, his computer and the USB, his phone and the charger . . .
“Time was passing like a hand waving from a train I wanted to be on.” ~ Jonathan Safran Foer
I’m much weepier than when he left the last time. Part of it is timing, part of it is my breakdown on Sunday, part of it is today. It’s just too much to absorb in just one day. Sometimes absolutely nothing happens in a day, and other days, everything happens, and when that’s the case, it’s just too much.
Let me give you an example: the song “Mandolin Rain,” by Bruce Hornsby showed up on the right side of my YouTube today. I’m not sure what I was searching for that would make that song appear, but “Mandolin Rain” was the song that my ex listened to over and over after we lost Caitlin. It’s a song full of meaning, so of course, it comes blasting back at me like some kind of rocket from the past.
Time is funny that way. It can move along sequentially, and then it can seem to run parallel, and then when things really get crazy, it can seem as if tangents of time are running wildly out of control. As I stood at the airport demarcation between passengers with tickets and the rest of us, I was caught in one of those sequences. Time was moving forward, taking Corey across an ocean away from me. Time was moving backward, bringing back memories of a March afternoon on which I gave birth to my second daughter, and time was standing still as I waited for that final wave—I was static, standing in one place as people came and went all around me, some leaving, some arriving, some running to say hello, some clinging as they said goodbye.
I had all of time in one moment.
“In the yellow time of pollen near the blue time of lilacs
there was a gap in things. And here we are.” ~ Luke Davies, from “from Totem Poem [In the yellow time of pollen]”
Yesterday afternoon I collected these quotes, thinking that I might go ahead and write another post, but after I found the quotes and found the images, I couldn’t write. Sometimes it’s like that. Sometimes I find the quotes and write the post but cannot find the right images, and sometimes I find the quotes, but nothing else comes.
Everything happened so fast between the quotes and the telephone calls. He was going. He was going on Tuesday. He was going Monday night. He was going Monday afternoon.
Last night we lay side by side holding hands and talking—was this the right thing to do? Yes, definitely. Probably. Maybe. Finally I found a way to put what I was feeling into words: Even though I don’t have a lot of faith in this company to come through with a complete hitch for Corey, right now it’s available, and it’s good money. In the meantime he has his other applications out, and he can explore other avenues. This trip gets him back on the water, gives him some ocean time as opposed to near-coastal sea time (it makes a difference, believe me), and he can use however many days he does with this company to put towards a few more certifications, like Tanker Man.
So while the leaving is less than perfect, not nearly enough time to take in everything, the going is good. At least that’s what I keep telling myself even as my chest tightens and I begin to get watery eyes.
“A special kind of silence prevailed, a silence that figures neither in musical nor in philosophical dictionaries, as if time were coming apart and flying off in different directions simultaneously, a pure time, neither verbal nor composed of gestures and actions.” ~ Roberto Bolaño, from Amulet
So after Corey fell asleep last night, I wrote him a letter and left it on his laptop where he would find it later. I told him that I believe in him and that I believe that this is the right thing to do. I assured him that we would all be fine, and asked him to concentrate on his job and not worry about what’s going on at home.
Then I tried to go to sleep, unsuccessfully. I had a stomach ache. I had a pain in my chest. Nerves, all of it. Eventually I did fall asleep, even as my mind went through a checklist of things that I needed to make sure were in the suitcase.
Brett couldn’t go to the airport with us as he had a test at school, so it was just Eamonn and me seeing Corey off, telling him to be safe, telling him that we loved him. And I willed myself not to cry, to save the tears for later. Now here I am, sitting at the computer in Eamonn’s room, the afternoon sun coming through the window, Shakes snoring beneath my chair, and the house otherwise empty and silent.
And finally, my body is beginning to feel the exhaustion set in. I think that if I were to lie down, I would probably fall asleep in seconds. But not yet, not quite yet.
“5. I know that time is bound up with space. Time is the shadow of space. Space the shadow of time. I know that we live in the shadow of a shadow and that it returns to the light.” ~ Patrick Dubost, from “What I Know”
After leaving the airport I thought briefly of going to the cemetery, but I realized that such a move would probably do me in, and I would be right back where I was when I awoke yesterday. So I came home, and here I am, mulling over the concept of time and movement, and I have to wonder if a watch stops, does that mean that somewhere, time has stopped as well?
The old watches and clocks, the ones that we wound so carefully, cultivating time, harboring time, those time pieces—they were the keepers of the past and the present and the future. Now, the ones powered by batteries, those are merely mechanisms. There is nothing magical about them. I prefer the Roman numerals, the sweep of the second-hand to the digital display. My m-in-law had an old ship’s clock in her living room. It was made of brass, and it chimed the hours and the half hours, and that chime was, I believe, in the key of A, or at least that’s how it sounds in my memory. Eventually the spring mechanism broke, and the clock sat there idly, but its presence was a constant reminder of the hours that it had kept, and the time that had passed in that room.
I have an old watch that belonged to my father. It’s a wind-up, but it no longer works. I have considered taking it to a jeweler to see if I can get it fixed. It’s not a valuable watch, except to me. It has the imprint of my father’s wrist on the inside of the olive green leather strap, and I’m certain that it retains the memory of his DNA. Wearing it is like wearing a piece of him, like I’m sharing an afternoon with him, and he’s making me a cup of tea.
Whenever my father, for whom English was a second language—but he spoke it very well, more properly than my mother—whenever he left for one of his trips somewhere in the world, the last thing that he would say to my mother and me was “See you when I gets back.” I know that he knew that the gets wasn’t correct, but I think that somewhere in time, that must have been how he said it the first time, and saying those same words each time he left was like a talisman.
So I will see Corey when he gets back.
More later. Peace.
Music by Mazzy Star, “Into Dust”
For What Binds Us
There are names for what binds us:
strong forces, weak forces.
Look around, you can see them:
the skin that forms in a half-empty cup,
nails rusting into the places they join,
joints dovetailed on their own weight.
The way things stay so solidly
wherever they’ve been set down—
and gravity, scientists say, is weak.
And see how the flesh grows back
across a wound, with a great vehemence,
than the simple, untested surface before.
There’s a name for it on horses,
when it comes back darker and raised: proud flesh,
as all flesh,
is proud of its wounds, wears them
as honors given out after battle,
small triumphs pinned to the chest—
And when two people have loved each other
see how it is like a
scar between their bodies,
stronger, darker, and proud;
how the black cord makes of them a single fabric
that nothing can tear or mend.