Future

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I think a lot about time—its constant churning. Every moment is another moment’s future yet also another moment’s past.  There’s a Kierkegaard quote about how life can only be understood in backwards glances. I think there is truth in that and find myself retracing memories often, looking to connect the dots that have sent me spiraling into the present.

Sometimes, I wonder what it would feel like to see a quick flash of my future—ten years down the road, a snapshot of what a Tuesday morning in the distance looks like. Nothing too long or too short, just something to give me a sense of toward which lighthouse I should be steering. I wonder if this would give me peace or would just leave me wanting.

I imagine a kitchen: small, bright green. Lodged into the pit of some city. A wall is covered in cork, pictures of past homes studded along the edges: the front door of my dingy bungalow in the East Village, a three-person home I shared with two hippies and their cat in Berkeley. I imagine a life that has taken me places, a life that has left me with shelves full of dog-eared postcards as bookmarks. Perhaps a backpack propped against the door, stuffed with clothes and journals, ready and waiting for me at the slightest impulse. I am a teacher and have taken up gardening small things in pots along the windowsill: flimsy basil, gem-like cherry tomatoes. I’ve a bike and a lover, but use both things sparingly: I am my own best partner in crime.

Or.

A living room: bookshelf walls, white curtains covered in the finger-paint-handprints of my three children. I am wearing the kinds of shoes that I used to buy at thrift stores because I thought they were trendy and old-fashioned; now, I buy them retail for their comfort and sensibility. I had early success with some writing I’d done for a small publication and found myself sucked into the kinds of accolades that made it difficult to remember the whys behind certain actions. I never married but found someone who understood my need for solitude. We decided to make a life together and grew to love one another in the sorts of quiet ways I used to mock. Iris plays trumpet and Tobias wants a cat—we settle on a fish with stripes of blazing gold.

I imagine a boy who became a man before he’d realized it. A case full of old instruments, loose paper. His hands have roughened, but are gentler now. They’ve learned how to hold other hands without getting clammy. He reads his old journals and chuckles at the sentimentality of it all. He’s learned how to dig his heels into the present, how to stop casting dandelion seeds into future winds. He is grounded for a time and recognizes the uncertainty of his now. He finds beauty in this unsettledness and does not fear what is to come. TC Mark

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