And then it was now...
My neglected blog fears that I've developed carpal tunnel syndrome or joined a cloistered order.
A thuggish cold/virus, with malice aforethought, set upon me and stole not only my breathing but any clarity of thought I possessed. I have been muddled and hazy since Sunday, about which I wanted to report. On Sunday morning I got to talk with the woman who became my first school friend when I joined her kindergarten class mid-year. As I was being introduced to the line of other end-of-the-war babies, I remember her stepping forward and offering me a piece of candy. We have known each other for 51 years; our birthdays are two days apart.
What hopscotched around in my head following our talk was the word continuity. Like Charles Baker "Dill" Harris coming to visit every summer in To Kill A Mockingbird, like knowing there would be Cornish pasties and sweet mixed pickles at any picnic my grandmother planned, like shopping for school supplies at Kress five and dime, certainties make us feel less adrift.
I am fortunate in having as a constant presence in my life since junior high, a friend first met in the fifth grade. She has seen and aided me through my worst moments, her mother's was the only adult voice to try and talk me out of a doomed first marriage at 18, and we still laugh (or cry) together every week. An ocean has separated us for more than 30 years but her gift for remaining in touch and her uninhibited willingness to travel...wherever...have given us grown-up adventures not too unlike our adolescent forays.
In the Sunday phone conversation, hearing someone speak of my parents as she knew them then, still young, gave credence to my memories. Which is not to say I had forgotten anything about them, it was simply confirmation that, I suppose, I didn't dream my life: it happened. It was not so much any specific event but the fact that we had been there together, that we could, hand over hand, rewind that ball of yarn and find ourselves at the same spot. Her recognizable voice and recollections helped anchor my tent so, rather than worrying that it could be carried off by some rogue gust, I could sit calmly and contemplate my world. A real world.
That I also can depend on my somewhat younger brother to verify recollections has steadied me again and again. In a mind prone to fabrication, as the process for building a sentence or an illustration, questions naturally murmur...is THIS as invented as THAT, is there more embellishment than fact in this scene I think I recall?
Continuity means not only substantiation, it means exactly what it says: that in some form whatever was has support to continue. Back to the belief that we contain all our younger selves, that we are the aggregate of all moments, and, as a friend calls them, enlightened witnesses shore up the belief that we are who we think we are. As I write this, I feel I would give anything to have my less than five-foot-tall grandmother beside me, testifying, by her presence and arm around my shoulders, to the truth of souvenirs my heart carries from our hours and years together. Continuity is the difference between being the escaped helium balloon drifting toward the sun and the bobbing Mickey Mouse head tied firmly to my wrist.
In a life which now dances on without so many of the people who have mattered, to be affirmed as something greater than a ghost of my own imagining by someone who was there carries a gift I didn't know I was missing. Age does run its sly con game on us, it can turn us around and undermine our knowing, especially if some of our real history has elements of the fantastic.
Knowing too little about, I suppose the field would be physics leaves me defending on one leg the wonder of human life which is both the vessel carrying all previous moments and the unseen force of continual change; our two halves, conjoined twins, what was and is and what is becoming. That any of us blunders on in a state other than confusion is the miracle. Or maybe other people don't see it this way. That once caused me mild concern. Now I seem better equipped to embrace my unprovable theories. I've given up trying to pass for normal.