An anniversary song (time is a rubber band)
My boyfriend isn’t bothered by anniversaries; he’d say that they’re arbitrary measures of time, are dates exploited by cynical marketers to force meaning on the unimaginative. 365 days is resonant because we’ve made it so. Aren’t we basic not to be able to shake it off, to be outside of proscribed time. Think of the possibilities of that! He’d say that. Or something. I’d smile and say “hmmm” and protest about the resonance of anniversaries, how it is no bad thing to look around you at the scenery, to look back and forward as well as at this moment you’re in right now.
Our friend Sam wrote a song called 4 YRS, an anniversary song, about how time enters you and the things around you:
“These four years are in our bones/are in our home/are in our phones and in our photos /are in ourselves / are on our shelves/are in our cells.”
It’s four years for us too (us – you start to own certain time together, even while you must hold other time separate for you alone). An anniversary: 48 months ago I was aflutter. I lay awake all night. I wrote terrible poem after terrible poem. Metaphors of varying quality, mostly low, were bursting all over me. Spring was springing. I had been woken up. I felt drunk. Pieces of fruit took on profound meaning. So did leaves. I laughed at myself, embarrassed.
Wendy Cope’s poem On Waterloo Bridge, wind whipping tears into her eyes:
“I wipe them away with a black woolly glove
And try not to notice I’d fallen in love.”
I tried not to notice in case noticing it made it not true.
It doesn’t feel like 4 years. Time is elastic. And marking it in the way we do is what we have. Crossing off the days makes this unknowable thing more knowable. February is the anniversary of last February, of all Februarys. At their best, these versions – past, present, future – all have their own potential to enliven us; at worst, to own us.
People hate January, but I don’t. I am partial to all this time that’s hanging around, to the buds are poking up from the earth in my window box, to the films there are to watch.
Here we are at home. Here are our shelves and our cells and our photos and all our love, with its private history (every love story is a secret). No one ever knows what happens after this episode. But here it is, nonetheless.
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