I think one of my defining characteristics as a human is my constant awareness of time. And by awareness I mean obsession, and by obsession I mean driving force behind literally everything I do.
I wake up on a Saturday morning and immediately calculate if I have time to throw in my laundry before brunch. How many hours I have before dinner in which I needed to make a birthday card, do a booze run and get a cheese and cracker spread prepared all in time to take the TTC to the party so I can save the $25 cab fare and use that for a[nother] brunch the next morning.
My obsession with time has contributed, in a way, to a lot of my success. I think I’ve been more productive. Have fit more things in. However, it’s also been a constant source of stress at the back of my mind, making me unable, in some cases, to fully enjoy the dinner that’s dragging out because my mind is already onto the next thing. I’m too busy calculating how long I’ll have, if I get home in half an hour, to make my lunch for the morning, pack my gym bag and still get 7 hours of sleep.
The point of this piece isn’t about how my obsession with time has been an equally negative and positive force in my life. The point is that now, in this new, NZ life, time has completely changed.
I’m still aware of it. I still get home from work and mentally think about how many hours I have left before my brain gives up for the day. But here, in this displaced, travelling mindset, time is different. It’s both non-existent and intensely accelerated. I mean sometimes, it’s the most relevant thing. You have a flight home booked in XX number of days, and that fact is the driving force behind everything; behind when and where you choose to go and what you choose to do in between. Because the clock is ticking and time isn’t yours anymore.
Often it’s the opposite. There are no immediate plans or obligations. Time is yours. Time doesn’t exist in the conventional way. Instead, you make the choices you want to make based on how you feel rather than how much time you have.
Time is not how you measure anything. You don’t measure how close you’ve become with someone or how important something is based on how long you’ve been with it. It’s measured on how much you felt it, and how much you needed it at that point.
1 week is enough time to build a home with people; to feel attached to something and someone. 2 weeks is a lifetime. After being on the move; after weeks bled into months of packing and unpacking and driving to the next spot; two whole weeks in the same place, where you could do laundry and spend a day vegging without worrying that you were missing any must do’s in that town. Where you could let yourself relax and take off your ‘on’ face. You could stop making decisions and start eating leftovers again. You could get comfortable, in a place and with people.
And you find yourself going through things with these people within this time, and it makes you have conversations and feel things and know them in ways that are different than everyone else in your life. Because everything is so accelerated. Because you’ve built a home that is so insignificant in the timeline of your life but SO significant in your heart, and you’re not sure how anyone else outside of this could understand that. Because here, you’re all the same. You’re all a little unsure and a little scared, and sometimes you’re drinking wine you can’t afford or sipping coffee at the lake and these are the things that you need to talk about. So you do. And suddenly you know them differently and you know yourself differently, and that had nothing to do with how long you’ve known them. It had to do with this exact moment that no one else could ever get.
I mean, three very special people left last night. Three people who I have seen literally every single day for the past month. And no, that isn’t rare. I mean some people work at the same job for 40 years and see the same people every single morning for forty years of their life. One month in comparison to that is, quite virtually, nothing.
But like I said, time is different here. And you are different here. Because like, when people leave, they aren’t leaving for another job or moving to a different city because their partner got relocated. They’re leaving because they’re going home. Because they’re going to a new country to find more of themselves. Because it’s time for their life to change again. And it’s exciting! But it’s scary. Like, going home after months or years of being away. And now you’re returning to something, and you’re scared but you don’t know why, and you cry so many tears and feel so many feels and say goodbye not just to a place you’ve come to love and not just people you’ve come to to love, but parts of yourself that you felt so much while you were here. And you’re scared of losing that and you’re scared that life is changing and you’re scared that you’ll forget how simple it all is. And how could this much time have already passed? How is it already time to move on? How is it already time for them to move on?
These are the things you think about, and these are the things you bond over, and these are things that make you know that life here cannot be about time. It isn’t about planning your week in terms of x4 gym classes and x4 post-workout drinks. It is never about what you’re doing and when. It’s about how you’re feeling, and who you’re feeling it with. Time is accelerated. You fall in and out of love in the span of 5 days. You can, and you do, and nobody questions it. It’s simply the way it is.
And maybe this is happening to me so I can finally understand that life, at home or on the road, should never be about time. That utilizing your time is far less impressive than loving your time. That the quality of your experiences will always trump how many you managed to have. And that wasted time isn’t something to fear. It’s actually quite the opposite, since all those ‘wasted hours’ here have led me to all the people and moments I was meant to have. They’ve led me to a home. And maybe that’s what life should always be; allowing yourself to enjoy your time in order to find wonderful places with wonderful people that make life the wonderful fucking place it’s supposed to be.