Uncertainty - 2017


The Time Shift

By A. Spaice

Tuesday arrives. My day for a quick tidying-up around my rooms. I do this. Then it rains. I'm renting a bungalow. Far from everyone and everything; I'm certainly not keen to get back to the usual routine, not yet. I'm waiting.

Just a month ago, I got a call that I haven't been able to shake. Some strange number, a voice I couldn't really hear clearly, it sounded so short and dry, and the news. The news that my best friend was “unreachable." Yes, four weeks now. Was when the call came, had it been a Tuesday? Yes, must've, because I think I was holding two pillowcases, moving them around the house. But the call came, and I dropped them, left them where they were.

I guess it doesn't matter if you're in the city, or in the country, or somewhere else, but waiting is an in-between kind of place. You just have to sit still. Or do you? Is time real? Me, I'll try to reminisce, instead of worry. Yes, the old studio, the old colleagues, the old footpaths and parks and tea houses here, they're starting to come back to me.

Eliza and I had so many great conversations spaced with moments that let long silences happen. Words get in the way of real communication, she would hint, in those quiet times of sitting together.

I didn't know then that such days could come so easily to an end, that we would find ourselves separated by continents and even decades. I think, and this is just a guess, but I'm feeling my way towards this, so I'll tell you.

I have been discovering, slowly, that we only can put meaning to a thing once we spend some good quantity of time around it, and its environment, and around people who speak the language of it and together learn the intimacies of curls and repeating gestures and unspoken ideas that come in layers.

It's raining, again. It's raining even now. Questioning. What might be coming? What might be next? Instead of my usual routine, which involves flats and a cat and watering plants and laundry, I knew I had to make a shift. So I came out here. Right here. This is where I am. I've gotta pay attention to this. It's wet out. Feels like monsoon.

The staccato voice on the other side, I remember, had told me to stay calm. It spoke the words in short and clear statements, the way you would if you were writing an explanation of chaos theory. We don't know too much right now, Spaice. Sometimes things happen that we just cannot predict, or explain. Can you wait? We may need to ask you some more questions, in time.

A few days after that, I dialed their number, to see where things were with the search, if there was any update, that kind of thing. But it just rang and rang, and… I don't know. I guess I had this idea that I should do something, that I needed to put action to work, otherwise, well, then you wouldn't know, you wouldn't have data, and you couldn't make informed decisions. Right? Wasn't that how I had been trained to do things? But I couldn't get through. So I figured, I'd get moving. Clear the decks and get fresh air.

Eliza and I used to come here, to work on our separate projects. That's a big part of why I wanted to be back, too. You go around the world and you see a bunch of places, but sometimes what you want most of all when you're looking for comfort is the familiar. Where you used to go. What you used to do. I'm back, and it's the same, pretty much, in every way but one. I am older. You always think, when you're young, “Oh, I have time." My aunts and uncles used to say that, and I'd shrug, and now I've become so much like them I don't recognize myself.

My last visit here was 12 years ago. Eliza was with me. I'm trying to think. A lot of colors, in one scene: thin yellow curtains, silk and streaming light, the green of the grass just outside the picture window, the blue of the great sky, stretching for as long as I can remember. In my memory, the scene is a composite of a lot of feelings, plus the still-vivid picture of a wooden table in the kitchenette, with scraps of peels from apples on a white plate. A teacup. There was always an unreasonable quantity of paper surrounding her. These lay among her pens, and postcards, her unsent letters. Fragments of notes, bits of equations and penciled theories and sometimes, the occasional poetry.

Eliza was always noting what people said. Physicists, especially, followed by artists, philosophers, and poets. I remember thinking, 'Huh.' It wasn't easy to keep up with all the glittery quotes. But I can't think right now. I've got to focus on not-thinking. This trip, I think it's working, a little. I'm starting to relax. Out here feels good. You'll find the birds, the breeze, the water in a small stream close by. I can't quite hear it, but almost. Something about the patterns of the old geometrical designs call the eye. Something beautiful is here, in the weave.

Contact A. Spaice at: info@designkompany.com