Time is a pretty terrifying thing. It carries you forward whether you want it to or not. Until one day, you notice how your favourite sweater is suddenly too small for you to wear and your favourite blanket doesn’t quite reach your feet any more.

One day, my notifications go off.

Ping! Check out this photo from 1 year ago.
Ping! Check out this photo from 2 years ago.
Ping! Look back on this day 3 years ago.
Ping! Graduation photos!
Ping! Childhood memories.
Ping! You’ve run out of storage. Would you like to buy more?

One day, I am handing yogurt to a girl I met 5 minutes ago. We are swimming in a pool with floaties so big, we cannot hold onto them. There is so little in common between us, I stay underwater longer just to have an excuse not to talk.

Blink and I am handing yogurt to a girl I met 5 years ago. We are swimming in the same pool with the same floaties that are so small, they barely keep us afloat. We leave the pool early just to sit and talk more. That year, our graduation photos hang side by side in the school hallway. Our names are forever carved beside each other on the awards plaque.

One day, letters arrive in our mail. Thick bundles of forms and instructions. Introductions and explanations. We both tick off the same electives. We both dread the same subjects. But the mailing addresses on our envelopes do not match.

Blink and we are both packing our bags. Blink and lined paper is going in our binders. We are sliding lead into our pencils and the pencils in our bags. We are gulping down breakfast too fast because our old hello kitty alarms no longer work. We pile into our cars. We head to the intersection. She turns right. I do not turn at all.

One day, I drive past the bus stop I drove past yesterday. I drive past the same house with the peeling blue windows, the same tree that somehow still hasn’t toppled. I drive past the same road I walked past to get bubble tea in sixth grade. The air teeters on too cold like it did so many years ago, when I first tasted the sweet tea with a girl I last saw 5 months ago.

Blink, and she is standing by the bus stop I drove past yesterday. I am reminded of a time when we shared bubble tea in the same bus stop she stands in now. She is wearing clothes I do not recognise and a hairstyle I’ve never seen. She waits for a bus I have never ridden. She holds a drink I do not recognize. Time has erased bits and pieces of her that I knew. Time has erased bits and pieces of me that she knew. Blink, and she is just a girl I last saw 2 years ago.

Sometimes I wonder if I had never closed my eyes, how much more I would have seen. Would I have seen the bus ticket she held in her hand, or the first time she wore that jacket? If she never closed her eyes, would she have seen my text two years ago as she turned right? Would we have written over the places we erased? If I never blink, can I never move through time?

Photo: Alberto Barbarisi on Unsplash.com