The arrival and subsequent departure a few hours later of an old friend (old referring to the friendship, not the friend, who is younger than I am, and furthermore, if I’m being honest, which we should all strive to be, our friendship is not particularly old either — not in the cosmic sense, at least) reminds me of the funny-weird way that we perceive time. Of the way that we perceive the passage of time and the passing of time.
In situations like these, we tend to spend much of our limited time together passing back and forth a condensed version of the passage of time since we last saw each other. Catching one another up — literally the passing of the passage of time. The start and end points of these narrations are determined by our times together (past and present), but the actual recounting focuses inward on the present self. I have done this. That happened to me. I am the culmination of all of these past events.Sitting together, we speak of ourselves, of our experiences, of our passage through time.
We also pass the present time recounting our past times together. While we can’t help but bring some of present selves back through time during these retellings, projected onto our past selves, the narrators of these older stories are really those selves we’ve long since shed, whom we bring back to testify one more time, that we seek to inhabit again for a time, however imperfectly, through the telling and the retelling, aware all the while of the inexact fit, the exposed seam.
Back in the present, and parting once more, I feel for a time that some part of me remains behind, still locked in the process of clearing old, dust-laden memories long-untouched in our personal archives that we sometimes call life. A part charged with maintaining our past selves, as suits on racks, ready to be called up at an instant, to be inhabited once again. Perhaps this is why we tell and retell and retell these stories, though the details change in the telling and in the passing and the passage, as do we.