A long time ago, in a land far, far away, I lived in a condemned house owned by a slumlord named Plague.
Really. That was his name.
In this condemned house, in 2 apartments, lived 8 of us. We were all young, idealistic, poor as hell, and continually ready to drink, party and hunt for sex. There was a constant flow of people through upstairs and downstairs, and you never knew who you might find on the couch. Always chaotic, always interesting, and always something to do. Viewing it now through the filtered glass of nostalgia, it looks awfully sweet.
There was one constant during that time– Tuesday afternoon. Tuesday afternoon belonged to Kelly and I. We held that time as sacred, inviolate. That was our time to hang out together, away from the constant parade of visitors, the continuous noise of experimental industrial music, guerrilla poetry and stoners playing with chainsaws. It was our time to reconnect.
Sometimes we would go for a walk. Sometimes we would draw, or watch television, or play a game. Sometimes we would get coffee and just talk. But Tuesday was for us, and that was the important part. Time. Time together without interruption, or obligations; time to just be friends and enjoy the things that made us love each others’ company.
Kelly sent me a postcard last year. On it, she wrote, “Remember Tuesdays, and that time you and I and Paul went to the Jenny Holzer exhibit and made burgers? Remember how we made time for each other? Let’s give each other the gift of time again.”
The gift of time.
I remember that day, vividly–the exhibit was stunning, all the rooms darkened, the walls covered in LEDs, poetry flashing by at different speeds. We stood silent, transfixed. We shared a pair of sunglasses between the three of us, and handed them back and forth without speaking.
We walked back to the house excited, filled to overflowing, and starved. Our combined funds were $1.38. We ransacked the couch cushions, found a couple of bucks, and went to the mini-mart to buy some ground beef. We laughed as we tried to light the hibachi, unsuccessfully, but we got it the second try. We cooked up those burgers, and some potatoes from the fridge, and we ate like we hadn’t eaten in a week. And we all swore they were the best burgers we had ever tasted in our entire lives.
It’s been nearly 25 years. I can still taste that day, and feel the laughter and the wonder and the beauty. We pulled it into every crack and pore. It wove a blanket that I still wrap around my shoulders on cold mornings.
The gift of time. I can’t stop thinking about it. We all want more time….but for what? Not for work, or to clean the house, right? More time to be healed. To see beauty in the mundane. To find the space that fits us. To love and be loved. To weave the blanket that keeps us warm, even on the coldest mornings.
I am trying to learn to give the gift of time. Give it to myself, and the people I love. Find more wonder and less worry. Find myself again, and feel that I am healed; that I am whole.
Time is finite, and I feel like I’ve wasted so much already.