Living In Forever Moments

I am four years old and jumping on my Bubbie’s bed when she’s not watching. Hyped up from the ice cream she lets me indulge in at this late hour, this only seems a natural outlet. And as I bounce above the worn-out orange quilt, to the hum of The Golden Girls in the background, a thud shocks my tiny ears, jolting my body that had felt invincible just a beat earlier. I am grounded, regaining my bearings as the mattress absorbs my shock. My chubby leg is caught in the abyss between the dark wood headboard and the mattress, the tight space trapping me with a squeeze. And suddenly, the realization that I have always been there and always will be. The shock of the collapse fades like the moment from floating mid-air to reaching the surface again. Gravity.

With a sigh of resignation, I have zoomed through the Kübler-Ross stages of denial to anger to bargaining to depression, almost immediately to acceptance. All right, baby. This is where I’ll be for the rest of my life. This is where I am and this is where I’ll remain, stuck inside Bubbie’s bedframe forever.

And once Bubbie returns from the kitchen and pulls me out with strong arms and nervous laughter, it is as though that blip in time has been retracted from the record of my life, fading in significance, and even in memory. Only available in the director’s cut, the deleted scenes. It just didn’t happen. Because I am no longer stuck, and I am back to hugging my knees into my Snow White nightgown and laughing along with the canned reactions to jokes I cannot follow on Lifetime’s broadcast.

Children are pretty resilient, if only because of the malleability of their short-term memory.

Later, I ask Bubbie what would happen when my mommy joined my daddy up in heaven. Who would help me brush my teeth?

“Well, Mamaleh, soon you’ll learn to brush your teeth all by yourself.”

But-but I can’t brush my teeth by myself now, so I’ll never be able to brush my teeth by myself. Have I even really shed this juvenile logic?

My intuitive, panicky prediction is not entirely off. I am, in a way, still stuck in that space between the headboard and the mattress. I do brush my teeth on my own. But if it’s sunny in the morning and forecasted to rain at three, I don’t bring my umbrella. Because the sunshine now is so convincing, selling me on its loyalty.

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All that is has always been and always will be. I am present-minded to a fault. And that is why I write, at least partially why.

I keep a record of my life I’ve distastefully called “gestapo-like” in its minutia. Two canvas boxes hold the composition notebooks that bear witness to my scrawled lists, schedules, aspirations, observations, intoxicated streams of consciousness, despair, ecstasy, free-writes. I wonder in it, what’s behind the term “national conversation,” as well as why I miss certain people and moments so much it hurts. What the hell Reagonomics are, and how the fall leaves can be so glorious they make me unexplainably giddy, convinced that nothing could ever hurt me again when my heart is floating toward the sun. On each page, I am there, swathed in whatever that moment confines me in its embrace.

Stay, stay here. Never leave. This will always be.

גם זה יעבור

This too shall pass.

And I look back, flipping through the crises that seem distant in the way movies you’ve seen a while ago do. I never did like when people said “see-all that worrying for nothing!” It’s never for nothing, because it was everything, inescapably so, at the time. Just because it slipped away doesn’t take away the subjective eternity of that moment.

And I smile at who I was yesterday and how recognizably unrecognizable my mind is from page to page. How consistently inconsistent and totally me I am in each of these moments. From that Now to this Now and onward, I am in it with all my being. I let it capture my leg and my mind for a forever moment.