After a long ass hiatus I think I need to put out something I tried for the first time: A TRANSPARENT IMAGE.
Hopefully I can make six more of these cuties, they're like a rainbow pin-up girls series or something...
The end of the world arrived on a Sunday.
We didn't see it because we were too busy watching it on the telly.
I know of someone who can time travel (honest to goodness, I'm trying hard to be truthful here).
He was a man who worked at a local grocer, working from nine till closing time. Just an average man, with average looks and average eyes. He earned an average wage, enough to support his average life. You never expect extraordinary things from average people but there he was, a man who can actually time travel (I'm sure H.G. Wells is rejoicing in the after life at the knowledge).
His name... well, he doesn't want people knowing his name. Why should people care what his name was? People would always be more interested in his time traveling abilities. Besides, he's a pretty quiet man, likes to keep to himself.
I learned of his talents while paying for a loaf of bread, making a bit of conversation. "Hello! Anything interesting going on in your life?" I said, not really expecting an interesting answer. How interesting could a grocery store employee's life be at this moment? Maybe I was adding to his list of the day's miseries with my inane chatter.
He looked me in the eye as he handed me my change, and gave me a wan smile. "Well, I can time travel. Can you believe that?" I shook my head and laughed. "No, I don't." His smiled widened and he gave me my receipt. "I didn't expect you to and nobody really does. Have a nice day!" And I went out of the store, the man's revelation still rattling in my head until my own reality caught up with me and thoughts about time traveling grocery employees are out of my mind.
I saw him again as I was contemplating which brand of pasta sauce to get (my Mum, a very particular woman, wanted a specific flavor and the wrong sauce can earn me pitying looks from her). He was stacking up bottles of tomato paste and I greeted him cheerily. "Aren't you the time traveler?" I meant it as a joke, still disbelieving of the man's talents. He smiled at me and returned my greeting. "Ah, the customer with the bread. How do you do?"
"I'm good. Just thinking about which sauce to get. My Mum's picky and she wants a particular flavor, something sweet, but not so much. Any tips on picking sauces?" He shook his head and continued on stacking. "Sorry, I don't even know my way around my own kitchen. Not really knowledgeable about sauces, too, and you could already guess that I'm not invested in my job to know which sauce is which flavor." I nodded and continued looking. His confession about being able to time travel popped into my mind again. "About what you said, can you really do it? Time travel?" He looked at me again and shrugged. "I can, honestly."
My interest was piqued and I abandoned my hunt for the perfect sauce to ask him more questions. "Really? What does it feel like?" The jars he was stacking made little clinking noises as he remained silent for a bit before answering slowly. "It's awful."
"Why?" I couldn't help but ask. If I had the power of time travel, well, I could do almost anything. No more embarassing moments or missed chances. The possibilities were endless. "Because nobody really wants to go back and relive the past. No matter how much we whine and gripe about wanting to rewrite history or rework time, or making moments last. The fact is, nobody wants to go back. It's a stupid and worthless talent." I was silent for a bit and he gave me a small smile again and wished me luck on finding a sauce as he walked away. I picked a random bottle and headed home.
That night, as I endured my Mum's pitying looks and swallowed down pasta with sauce that was too sweet I thought about what the man said. He was foolish to think time traveling was awful. I looked down at the mess of sauce and noodles on my plate. If I had the power of time travel I could have warned myself to get better sauce.
I saw the man again and it wasn't in the grocery store this time. I entered a coffee shop and saw him sitting at a far table, tucking himself into his soup and sandwich. I approached him and said hi, he grinned back and indicated for me to sit down, like we were friends or something. I sat down and asked how he was doing, to which he answered with the generic 'Im fine'. People always said that when they're the least fine. Nobody says that when they're genuinely and truly fine. If they were, they'd be jumping up and down and singing at the top of their lungs at how fine their day is turning out.
But I accepted his answer and I cautiously opened the topic about his time traveling abilities. He chuckled. "Still thinking about it, I see." He took a bite of his sandwich and chewed thoughtfully before he spoke again.
"I discovered my ability when I was a teenager, which is the worst time to discover a weird talent. There's no room for freaky abilities at a time when the universe is conspiring to make you feel as much like a freak as possible. But I thought it was cool and I set out to discover what I can do with it. My first real adventure was when I wanted to correct an embarrassing encounter with the girl I liked.
"I bumbled and fumbled, essentially made a fool out of myself. But I had consolation, I can time travel! I can just redo it and save myself the embarrassment. So I went back in time, don't ask me how I do it, though, I can't even begin to describe it to you. I was reliving the same moment again but you know what? No matter how I tried it always ended the same way. What was even more painful was that I have multiple memories of the encounter. You know how it feels, don't you? When your brain decides to remember the most humiliating memories at the most inopportune moments? Well, I get those, only with multiple versions of it. It's no fun and I feel my self-esteem deflating faster and faster."
I couldn't bring myself to speak and he took another bite of his sandwich. When he spoke again he caught my eye, and I imagined I can see how old he felt. A time traveler surely felt out of his own time, like he spent so many lifetimes without living his own.
"There are so many more stories about my time traveling, almost all of them ending in heartbreak. I won't tell them to you, why would I burden you with my sorrows? Take it from me, time isn't something you can rework or undo. Humans aren't made to live perfect lives. We're ugly, beautiful, joyful, sad, wonderful and awful. Our lives are the same.
"The moments we regret, they're there so that we can learn to move on. The past is past and the present is present. Oh, what a beautiful present we have, the future even more so.
"The moments we wish lasted forever, they're beautiful because they're fleeting. The briefest touch and the significant look, it feels like we steal slivers out of an infinity of wonderful things."
He took a sip out of his coffee and smiled warmly at me. "Listen. I don't expect you to believe every word I say. All I can say is that it makes a lovely story for your friends, no? Now, I think I'm taking up your time so you better hurry along and get your coffee. It was lovely talking to you."
I clutched my coffee, still thinking about what he said. I can't tell you that I believe all of it (but I most certainly do), I just have a feeling that he knew what it feels. Time traveling seems so transient, like you're passing through the things you ought to be experiencing or lingering on one moment that you regret. I realized I didn't want to travel time, it felt too tiresome. Besides, I had the past (with all the goods and the bads), the present (and the beauty of feeling it now) and the future (with the excitement of the unknown). What more could I want?
If you swing by the Art Gallery of Ontario you'd see this AIDS sculpture by the Canadian group General Idea. It has since been vandalized and graffitied by random people or even students from the nearby art university. General Idea's art is bold and brash and nothing could be bolder than AIDS in large silver letters. On it's own it's a striking, yet simple, piece. But the addition of spray painted (or even sharpie doodles) letters and doodles, as well as stickers (I even saw an awesome stenciled image on it's side) made it even more interesting. You can see the little snatches of the thought process and idea put into a quick moment of creativity, pressured by time and the idea of getting caught.