Saturday, January 08, 2011


A loss of twelve hours should not linger so long. That feeling of departure. Leaving one land, aloft in the air, suspended in space, a leap over time -- the stuff of our lives, modern and vital. What is half a day's absence, in light of this thrill? One life left behind, replaced by another; a journey through sky, swiftly but strangely. This motion of movement, a light-year in brief. (The plane rattles and shakes like a train shifting its tracks, with the difference of 'up' and the descent of 'down' giving a carnival touch to the entire trip, the strangeness enhanced by the absence of any outside sign of progression. Through a bus window we watch a world slowly passing us by -- garter snakes in their grass, poor people in backyards, laundry on lines, the stray sight of a skid-mark streaking some stranger's old gotchies being blown by the wind like a fart's quiet soft flutter, but a plane ride is a ride where all movement seems forced, bionic, a roller coaster's coy hustle. In we go, up we rise; shake; occasionally, lurch. (Are we nothing more than martinis?) Down we descend. Another country to greet us, the runway's pavement our rude and quite bumpy cheek kiss. We are here. Yet something from behind still demands we take notice.

To end at a place so remote from our origin is an experience we shrug off, a twenty-first century perk, life vital and viable. After all, what strange joy can a jet ride give us in full, when the click of a mouse and the drain of accounts gives us a world of new plastic stuff to stack our self-worth. (And to think that a computer's small mobile console, attached to a cord, should now be aligned with a gray furry rodent! Man has come quite a ways.) Left behind, mute, like a dull child who can't keep up with the pace of a his classmates' quick wit: a piece of our souls, a small slab of self still stuck at the airport back home, refusing to board.

Now: in this warm place, in mountains above small wisps of white clouds bearing no hint of dull ash -- just a few days before I was elsewhere indeed, squat in a cold space, crunching through snow, the sky not blue like today but instead shrouded in gray, that colour of rubber erasers all smudged and dark-stained from sweaty good use. (Erasing the unnecessary.) Twelve hours ahead, I've somehow leapfrogged through time.

Where did they go, those hours? Literally, I mean. Lost like loose lint from my pocket. Somehow I've convinced myself they still exist, in some form meant distinctly for me. Locked up in a vault that gamely shuttles its route on its own from my homeland to Asia, straight above that Pacific. (I gave up this part of myself to that safe, somewhere over Russia.) Inside its shut doors, buried beneath my own memory, a crude form of a bridge, could, if erected with care, and the right brand of tools, serve as a track that might make crossing over an option. Back and forth, from time to time. I could link two separate selves across that wide ocean, for I think, with the passage of years, they might just get along. If I could find those missing twelve hours, multiplied.

My grandfather's dementia, my niece's sweet laugh and my nephew's mad crashes on carpet, manic and joyous, my overall family's understated good heart, and the sound of my skates on a rough patch of ice as a puck leaves the blade of a crudely taped stick, slicing cold air, Canadian, its jab -- all of this stuff, I'm convinced, exists in some form almost Platonic in structure, above the earth's limits, preserved in that space where lost time resides as a taunt that we turn to at night, when sleep slips away.

Perhaps those hours we lose from such long forms of crossing intersect with our lives at stray points in our future. (If the door to that safe in the sky somehow cracks open.) I often wonder, on some future flight, bored by the movie, sick of the small salty pretzels couched in slick plastic, if I might look out my window and spot, for a moment, those hours I've lost track of over the years, hovering, then drifting, just past the wing. They will exist as physical, floating things, those memories I've missed out on, and the real ones, preserved. New memories as solids, as concrete as brick. Only these moments would act as small forward regressions, highlights from life that I somehow missed living. Surely, if we lose twelve hours of life simply in some kind of movement, within those minutes themselves exist what we might have enacted. Laughs had, friends met, kisses granted, promises exchanged, vows destroyed. Snow that fell, dew that glistened. The natural stuff.

I think those hours are there. (Existence, as a whole, cannot divert or discard its treasures with ease. I'm betting on this.) That time that was taken I'll make do my bidding. Dreamer that I am, in my own lunatic logic, I can hoard those hours again, crack the key to that vault that soars through the sky, examine its treasures to see if I left any life far behind. In those minutes I might find something I can take forward, even covet.