I’ve been thinking about time.
How quickly it passes in years. How slowly in days.
My mother said to me last month, “Nigel,” she said. “It’s time you did something with your talents.”
My girlfriend, less diplomatic, said to me last week, “It’s time to start packing your shit, Nigel. You’ve been evicted.”
To be fair, everyone was evicted. Like so many beautiful things in this world, the building is disappearing. I want to write an elegy for the apartments. I want to stand in the center of Trinity Avenue and serenade them. I want to stand on the cracked tile floor of my basement apartment all day and all night and memorize the feet of the passersby outside my eye-level window. Low-top sneakers; clogs; high-heeled boots swallowing pant legs; rain boots. Oh, the rain boots on the children, for fuck's sake. It’s all so fragile. So immediate.
Why doesn’t anyone ever say, “Nigel. It’s time to notice the way the hawks glide in slow circles over the tops of the university buildings.”
“Nigel,” no one ever says, “It’s time to really consider the meaning of the ‘Emperor of Ice Cream.’”
Why doesn’t anyone ever ask, “Nigel, isn’t it time to notice the way your heart feels when it thinks maybe, just maybe, this is what it means to experience actual joy?”
All these people seeking happiness when happiness is as ordinary as pot roast and your favorite televison show. Happiness is comfort food. Happiness is the bruise you get from bumping your hip on the corner of the same dresser every time you walk out of the bathroom every morning for two years.
Which means, I know what happiness is. But I think it’s time (hear that, mom and Elizabeth? It’s time!) to know what joy is.
Is joy doing the thing you are meant to be doing so purely and precisely that you do not even know you are meant to be doing it? Like a hawk extending its wings?
Or is joy the other side of terror? Knowing that every beautiful thing you love can be gone in a second. So, oh the precious fucking joy of it all?
Or is joy the glass breaking, the limestone crumbling, the wrecking ball hitting the side of the building in a singular moment that means the past is not forever and something different is about to be born.