Thursday, 24 October 2013

Resisting time's collapse

I realise now that I was used to time collapsing.

If I think to my childhood and our sitting around the table for Sunday lunch, I can recall very vivid images and particular incidents. But I do not remember specific days. These memories are conglomerates, one Sunday in my memory represents however many hundreds of times we sat down together.

If I think to just a few years ago, when we were in my wife's country and she was working in a particular office, I can remember making trips to collect her. But it is difficult to remember if she worked there for three months or ten. The days have merged and the time has blurred.

Since beginning this process I can remember every day of the past 22 months.

And I find there is something strange, even a little unsettling, in the fact that time has not collapsed.

As I recall having my hair cut on 21 March 2012 while waiting for my car to have a new section of exhaust fitted, I have a desire to let this memory concertina into all the other memories of having my hair cut while living in the same town. Yet, I remember as separate events every trip I have made to the barbers during this period.

As time passes my recollection does alter. There is a different flavour to the visits to past days when I refresh the images pinned to my internal calendar as memory tags. The recent past is fresher, but I am the same, my habits and concerns are unchanged. Looking further back, I can remember when those days too were as fresh, but now they have lost their freshness and the person I was then was focussed on different things.

Before I began this process, those days would have faded. Events would have merged, or been forgotten. After a while, I would be scratching my head to remember where we were living during that time, perhaps even whether we were in my country or my wife's. How long we stayed would be a mystery without looking to a calendar.

Except now I know instantly that we moved into the flat we rented on Thursday 29 December 2011 and spent a very happy time there before moving out on Thursday 27 September 2012.

That time hasn't collapsed, but every time I refresh the images for those days they are a little more distant and, while I may have changed, it seems strange that days now long gone have not faded.

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