prose

I Can’t Live In The Moment

Time has a way of swallowing things up. Making things almost obsolete, as if they never even happened. Sometimes, when I close my eyes, I can almost remember the smell of the room. Other times, it’s as if that entire experience happened to someone else entirely.

I lived in that room for one full school year. I can bring every part of it to mind. Most of all, the feeling I got when I walked into it. At the time, it was an endless nightmare of a daily routine, something I could not break free of.
Today, it is a memory, a piece of my history, a moment in time.
Practically obsolete. A moment that with all my strength, I can not bring back.
Life is made up of these moments, towering on top of each other, pushing us forward.
“Come help me!” my nephew pulled me over to his homework.
He had to trace the word CATS over and over and over on his paper to practice his handwriting, to make the letters a subconscious action, to get to the goal of efficient, legible writing.
“What do you need help with?” I asked.
“Can you just do some? I want to finish.”
He takes after me, always moving to the next stop, always keeping his eyes on the finish line.
Moments. They become obsolete as they pass us by, forever buried in a history we may not even remember.
Moments are long, endlessly long until they are gone. Sometimes you can feel it happening, you can practically see the hands on the clock turning, you can feel the minutes slipping away.
But sometimes, the more you stare at the clock, the slower it goes. You can feel time slowing down. Sometimes, in life’s toughest moments, it feels like this moment is here forever.
But moments don’t stay around, not the good ones, not the bad ones.
And in a weird twist, I mean that in a comforting way.
Living in the now has always been my struggle, for the future has not yet been ruined by reality.
And if we abandon our past, how can we make the future better?
Living in the now seems the most useless, there is always more to be done, fragments to glue back together, from our past, for our future.
This week I danced with my friend at her wedding, with a heart so full of joy for her, and I thought to myself “what a beautiful future she has ahead” and then I thought “no. Tonight, she is married, tonight she is joyful, it is not yet about the future. Let’s live in tonight.”
This week, I held my tiny brand new nephew, memorizing his every tiny feature, holding him close as if with force alone I could stop him from growing up in a blink of an eye. Before I know it, he will be holding my hand and saying my name, and these newborn moments with him will be difficult to even call to my mind.
I feel the minutes, days, moments slipping through my fingers. How does one live in the moment, and not feel like they are losing moments?
This week, 17 futures were destroyed in a moment, lives living for the future, lives ready for the future. Lives built on a past that now has an ending. Memories of moments are all their families have now, whispers and winks, moments they can not get back. Living in the future is sometimes a privilege.
I may live half of my life in the future, looking ahead to bigger and brighter, wanting more, working for more, praying for more, but I try to live in the moments that I can.
People say “live in the now!” but the truth is, we have no choice. We don’t know how to live in the past, nor can we live in the future. We can only live in what we have.
In the most joyful of moments, it is my responsibility to hold on to that joy, notice it, be grateful for it, revel in it.
In the most painful of moments, it is my privilege to know that this moment is almost a memory, that it will pass, that better moments will come.
And one day I will look back at my life today, remember my dreams and wishes, my deepest wants and desires, and the memory of it will fill me with the joy of having reached the place I dreamed of.
But just as I remember the dreams of my past, I will surely look forward with dreams of the future, because I’ll always be a girl with one eye backward, one eye forwards, and a heart trying to take hold of it all.

Blog Post: 22/52


Photo by Uroš Jovičić on Unsplash

Autumn in the City: A Snapshot

I’m making my students write a vignette tomorrow, a snapshot. I haven’t written one in a while.

So. Here goes:

Like most things in the city, the beauty of autumn doesn’t linger very long. When I awake, I pull on my thick, warm socks, over my leggings, and tie up my scuffed boots, feeling the chill inside of my bones. Over my heavy sweater, I start my morning off with a scarf, picking the widest coffee mug so that my cold fingers can warm up against the hot coffee inside. It’s fascinating how after a summer of 80’s and 90’s, a morning in the 50’s feels like the icy cold depths of winter. Just like us humans, consistently ungrateful, always forgetful. Without a doubt, autumn is when I feel most alive. Ironic, for as the world slowly dies around me, my heart feels lighter. I crush the leaves beneath my feet, the wind snapping at my hat. The warmth of my scarf heavily outweighs the consistent irritating itch it lends my neck, and so I always wear one. This year was the first time I made the commitment to a fall coat, and just weeks in, I realized why I never bought one before. Autumn is just a whisper, a quick peek and then it’s gone. The city turns on its fairy lights and it’s jolly tunes, running towards winter with a speed you can only find in New York City, and I stand on the busy streets, leaves beneath my feet, clutching my coat made for autumn, wishing it would just stay around, for just a little bit longer.

Blog Post: 8/52


Feature Photo by Karla Alexander on Unsplash

Past, Present, Future: What?

I saw my 9th grade dorm roommate today. It wasn’t anything special- I see her all the time. We live on the same block. We never really talk. We do The Wave. Not the wave wave, but the City Wave. Those three fingers, waved back and forth really quickly, which implies “Hi, I acknowledge you, but we aren’t going to talk.”

It’s normal. Happens every single day with so many people.
But today I was walking alone and in that moment of “the wave,” I suddenly had this overwhelming feeling of being in the past and the future at the same time.
It was the closest I’ll ever get to time travel this year.
This girl was my roommate five years ago. Five years ago, I was 13, and I was terrified.
If anything was my past, and the past that I grew most from, it was that past.
If there was anything I wanted in that past, it was my future.
Now I am living that 13 year old’s future.
My old roommate made me travel back to that young girls mind and fears. She had hopes and dreams, and could not wait to grow up.
I grew up since then.
I’ve been living so much into the future, that I forgot I am living somebody’s future already. My future. Right now.
That kid I was five years ago is my past. When I was her, I didn’t feel like time was moving anywhere, and now she is my past.
Is this what it means when it says G-d does not exist within the restrictions of time?
We are all continuously living a life of future and past, and we never stop to realize it.
Right now, I am living the past of future me. 30 year old me will remember 18 year old me, and realize that she is living the future Etti, but also the past Etti.
My brain feels so stretched, because it is so hard to focus on where I am now. I am my past. I am my future. I am both at the same time, but right now I need to be doing things so that I can look back into my past, and so that I can look into my future.
If I keep living focused on the future, I’ll lose my past. What is a future without a past, anyway? What am I building off of? An unbalanced foundation that is full of hope, but lacks of concrete action?
That 13 year old me deserves a future that is not focused on the future.
I owe it to her to be the 18 year old I wanted me to be.
I’m not good with details. That’s why the future always looks so much more enticing- there are no details there. It’s vague. I don’t actually know where I’ll be.
The present is full of details. It has minutes and seconds in it, and it takes so long.
It’s so much easier to focus on the future, to live in the future.
But it’s also dangerous.
But, every time I think about that poor thirteen year old Me who is having her future wasted because eighteen year old me just can’t wait to be five years older…that makes me frustrated with myself.
Live in the moment. I have to live life for what I have now. Then I’ll have a past. I’ll always have a future.
Seeing my roommate made me remember a past that I wasn’t happy in. In that past, I would have given anything to be in this future.
I’m here now. I owe it to me to live in the present.