Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Good Old Days

You're 89 years old. You're dying. Vaguely, from miles away, you can hear the BEEP BEEP BEEP of the machines that are keeping you going. Your sons come and go. Your daughter. They seem sad, then bored, then sad some more. You wish you could break through for just a moment, tell them that it's all right, it's all right, it's all right . . .

You're 81 years old. It hurts when you piss. It takes you seven hours to wake up. Breathing hurts. Everybody you know looks so fucking old, and the kids listen to music that sounds like noise. You close your eyes when you brush your teeth to avoid the mirror. Remember? Do you remember when it didn't hurt to breath? You thirst for those days. You can remember when you were a kid. Ice cream on the curb. You'd run for hours, barefoot, in the grass. Why can't it be like it was then? You long for it. You had a little dolly then. Cloth dolly with blonde hair. If you could just hold that dolly for a second, you think you'd just about die of happiness.

You're 70 years old. Your kid is 46 and balding. He just lost his job. He's so goddam concerned about it. He doesn't seem to know that another one will come along. He thinks his kid is a mess. Your kids all seem so stressed. You remember when they were little. They'd run to you with grubby faces and hands. They'd jump all over you. Cover you with kisses. They loved you so much then. Some days, when they visit, you see that little kid peeking out, and it just about destroys you. What you wouldn't give to have just one day back. Your legs are killing; you shouldn't have put so much strain on them today.

You're 55 years old. The kids are in college. You hardly ever see them anymore. In 7 years you figure to have enough to retire. You'll travel then.

You're 40 years old. Your business just imploded. Part of it was a bad business plan, part bad luck. You're not sure if you're going to keep the house. You wish you could move forward, but you're not sure how. If only you can get to a comfortable retirement, a safe platform upon which to land, but now that seems like all platforms are covered with debris to the horizon. You and your husband lie in bed, each of you pretending to sleep.

You're 32 years old. You think the long hours are about to lead to a promotion.

You're 24 years old. You miss the structure and certainty of college.

You're 12 years old. You can't wait to be older.

You are 17 days old. Your parents never sleep. They coo at you, cuddle you, hold you close. They look so concerned, so worried, so tired. You wish you could break through for a moment to tell them that it's all right, it's all right, it's all right . . .

* * *

You can time travel, you know. No machine required. All it takes is to look forward, to a time when you are a different you, wishing that you could be you now. All it takes is to look backward, to a time when you are a different you, wishing that you could be you now.

You are you. Now is now. Except that it isn't anymore. That instant is gone.

And yet, again. You are you. Now is now.

You've been waiting for it. You might miss it today. You're certain to long for it someday.

You can be the person who longed for today. You can be the person who will long for it. Just become them for a moment. See today with their eyes.

This is the moment you've been waiting for. Or, perhaps, this is the moment you'll be wishing for someday; the moment to which you wish you could return. This, right now, is that moment, which, if you could go back to it for just a minute, would make you weep tears of gratitude. Nothing robs you of this realization, nothing but a thin trick of perspective.

This is that time.

Right now.

So live in it.

These are the good old days.


BLAARGH! said...

damn, when did you become kurt vonnegut?

awesome writing goat.

Heffmike said...

I'll admit, I've got a tear just thinking about this, and I'm the grumpiest ass around.

Emily of Deutschland said...

Hmmm. This seems more like it should be a novel than a short short. Awesome thoughts on now and perspective, though. Strangely, I've been thinking about just these things all year long. Nice way to tie them together so concisely, though. I think my post on the subject was pages long. :)