I lost my timelines; or more accurately, I misplaced them. They were here somewhere, in this small grey room. I knew I hadn't left them on a train or in a taxi. There would be no breathcatching writerly anecdote attendant to the loss. I had hidden them from myself.
This week I was alone, completely. My mind was my own. All the pages I have written for my book got portage from the drawers and shelves, down the stairs to the dining room table. Each stapled section or lone scribbled sheet had its moment, its own vetting, and then a fresh placement in a new folder.
This took time; breaks were necessary. So I walked. For the first time this week since last June, I was able to walk without pain. I hate even writing that down, because having lost my walking, one of the central habits of my life, I have become intensely sensitive to people who cannot walk, or do so with great difficulty. I believed I would be able to again; my physical therapist said it would happen; and it came true.
I took several walks, each one with trepidation. What if I foundered again? I had that locked in sensation of being on my own with a memory of pain that was mine and mine alone. The evil twin.
I walked up in Mills Reservation with my dogs, twice around each time. Three miles. A month ago I couldn't go around the block without severe pain.
Back to work. I hadn't only written beginnings. There were pages and pages of scenes and events. Each of the major characters had been given his or her due. I began to see shapes, I began to move the pieces around. I had written scenes starring one character that might better serve for another.
I frowned. Last summer I wrote over 100 useless pages that barely sounded like me.
I walked this week in Asbury Park and Ocean Grove, very favorite places. Had the ocean really been so kind as to wait for my return?
It was a hard hard week, too. The new spring break.
I don't know anyone who had a parent die when she was young who doesn't viscerally feel time passing. Today is the first day of the rest day of your life? Okay. But it might also be the last day of the life of someone you love and depend on. Lose a mother or a father and you lose the irreplacable. Neural pathways. Opportunities. Taking for granted isn't an option.
The wound isn't jagged or complicated. It is a simple lop. The simplicity seems so clear from the inside, but can appear confounding from the outside.
How does that figure in to what I'm talking about here?
Where the hell could I have put my timelines?
I needed them for the stitching, the closing of the gaps, the fractures in the book. I could make new ones, but they would be extrapolated, backwards work. Not the hopeful feelers, the daydreams.
What is the worst thing that can happen to a person? Is that an easy question to answer or not?
I look ahead now, not back. I look at the time I have, and it is conceivable. The illusion of eons left has been pricked. I can wrap my mind around what remains, and death, too. I want to spend the coming scant time with who I love most, doing what I like best. Writing, walking, gazing, knowing. End of story.
I actually have written a book. Who knew? It isn't finished by any means, but it is a creature napping on the dining room table. Next break I will give it a shake, wake it up to play.
When I am alone I go off the clock completely. I am blind to the telling of time and only pass through it with a sense of its strangeness, its dominance and its passivity, its twinship with my being. Time, c'est moi. I can't ignore it even when I do.
It was a good week, it was a terrible week.
I found the timelines tonight in the way things are usually found. I suddenly went across the room and laid my hands on them. They were buried. Had I done that, or was it the mischievous days?
There are entries for what each character is doing in each year, from 1930 on. Very little of it will be in the book. It is a dream of order, of congruence.
The book is on the table, and I can walk again. Yet there is another level of being that isn't movement, or words. I lived there this week, too. In the real. In waves.