time is moving slowly today. do you feel it?
my mind has played through many stories. my body played through a couple of household tasks. but each time I glance at the clock I see that it’s only moved along by 5, maybe 15 minutes. it feels strange. strange enough that I don’t want to give it any other name but today. not Tuesday or Wednesday. not the 15th or hump day. just, today.
it reminds me of those summer holiday afternoons of childhood when everyone in the house would be taking a nap after a day at the beach or, if we were at the Kruger National Park, after we’d been out since 5am going on game drives. everyone would be asleep except my uncle, who would be outside on the porch smoking a cigarette, watching the minutiae unfold. he never read or listened to music. just sat there watching the world. back then, my world was small. so when everyone in the camp would be taking a siesta, it felt like time was standing still. like the whole world was taking a collective pause. the only sounds would be that of deep sleep-filled breaths, birds chirping through the dry heat, and the flap of sheets on the laundry line.
it felt like I was being shown another layer of existence.
one most people sleep through.
the layer of stillness.
I moved quietly and stealthily through the house. seeing it’s dark corners and intricate decoration in a new way. there was an edge of danger to it. i’m not sure why. it could be because there was always only a thin layer between me and my fear since I can remember. a natural fear that can comes from growing up in South Africa. but as scared as I felt, I also knew it was a part of my job to keep everyone safe while they slept. they were the thing most important and most worth protecting. so I would move in hidden and creative ways to make sure no one could follow me with their eyes or ears. my heart beating rapidly in my chest. sometimes the fear would win and overshadow the magic of the house. by the time someone else woke up and noise begun to fill the air once more, I would be exhausted. I would find the nearest couch and sink into the warmth of playful domestic bickering building around me and sleep.
but sometimes the magic won. the stillness would stretch and grow into something incredible. sitting outside in the grass, I could feel the flowers growing between my fingers. I could feel the wind sending barely detectable messages through the air. a muffled laugh. an empty can rolling along the sidewalk reminding me of the earlier busyness of the road. a waft of cooling fat from braai meat cooked earlier that afternoon. the far off hum of a jeep briefly dipping into the soundscape only to fade away again. in other words, nothing urgent to report today. I loved sitting in the grass. ladybugs crawling onto my legs tickling the little hairs.
the energy of the quiet house spoke a truth to me. without all the distractions and noise. I felt like a natural extension of the nature around me. if someone did intrude or threaten the house, I felt safer knowing that nature would be on my side. even as a child I had a streak anarcho-naturism in me.
but today. today has a bit of that energy. the energy of a sleeping world.
I’m sitting on the worn out couch in the sunroom, looking through the screen door at my mom in the heated pool built into the deck. the sun is shining and I watch as she closes her eyes and begins to relax. her worries melting into the steam coming off the water. I imagine them turning into the fluffy white clouds above her and drifting away on the wind. there is a breeze outside and I know it’s a frigid one but because I am in the warmth and I see her in the sun, it feels like it could be summer. one of those perfect Sunday afternoon summers where the world goes quiet for an hour or so.
I do feel the low hum of drums in the distance. reality. existential dread. the frigid wind. I feel a slight pang in my chest. he would love nothing more than to aim his hammer at my vision of today.
so I pause. retreat into the stillness a little more. make myself hidden.
look at her face. look at her kindness and open heartedness. look at the beautiful shape that has come from a life that’s been around longer than mine. look at where she softened. where she hardened. where she got chipped and where adornments were added. we have lived many stories together, my mother and I. the stories of South Africa. the stories of Canada. the stories of depression and pain. the stories of hysterical laughter. truth. history. heart. soul.
this will not just be another story between my mom and I
we will all remember this moment in time forever. we are all in this story
but today, is just today