December 22, 2005

Where you at?

I'm not quite sure how to go about this particular entry. See, often, I have either an idea of where I want to end up at the end of an entry, and no idea how I'm going to get there, or no conception of the destination but the journey is clear. This one? Well, neither. I'm trying to figure something out about myself with this one and, truth be told, I neither know how to do it nor remain entirely convinced that the trip is worth the trouble. Enough travel references?

It has to do with my relationship to space and time. There. That sounds nice and broad and perhaps a touch pompous.

Ever take the train? At night? All you can see is the very occasional glimpse of light as you rocket along. And from that glimpse, you can sometimes discern more or less where you are on your journey. Some silhouettes are enough to tell you, some half seen shape, some peculiar configuration. Well, to me, for some unknown reason, this is important. I like to know where I am in terms of time and space.

I can't really do the time part, actually. Ask my wife. She'll tell you that I am curiously unable to calculate and internalize and apply to myself travel time or the amount of time needed to get ready or get others ready or, well, the list could go on. Like putting the kids to bed. She claims I have no idea how long it takes. She may be right. I think kids expand time to suit whatever latitude indulgent parents give them. I can say, dear, that when I have the kids to myself and you are away, I can get them to bed happily and efficiently, no muss, no fuss. I just don't, upon reflection, know how long that takes me to do. Ok, enough digression. Although, since I don't know where this post is going or how its getting there, this may not have been a digression. I reserve judgment on the digression thing until I reach the end. And even then I may not know.

So, I like to know where I am. Even on the train ride. The train ride never varies. The rails were laid out many years ago and they don't move or change their route on a daily basis. So, chances are good that yesterday's ride was the same as today's ride, etc, ad infinitum. That just hints that my needing to know where I am is not rational. Well, that does me no good. I never claimed to be completely sane.

No, maybe I need to know where I am because I have an internal clock, totally divorced from the watch I wear on my wrist. I know, kind of, by some strange calculation, that if the train hits the Greenwich station going in, that I have scads of time left to read. That if I'm at a certain point in the Bronx, starting a new chapter is an exercise in optimism, a second marriage ("triumph of hope over experience"). That, on the way out, a nap from 125th Street to Stamford is a darn fine thing, one to be bragged about at home. I calculate time by knowing distance. I could, I suppose, look at my watch. But I don't. Pretty much ever.

Ok. I can accept this much -- I need to know where I am because I use it to tell time. Kind of atavistic, but still, not entirely without reason.

And by the way, I am really good at this. Even in the total darkness, I can, within moments of looking up from my book, figure out exactly where I am anywhere from Grand Central to Greenwich. Beyond Greenwich, well, no. I can't do it. And it makes me uncomfortable.

Hence this post. As I try to figure out why I need to do this and why it makes me uncomfortable. I think, by this point, I have managed to convince myself it is not an outward manifestation of some deep seeded OCD, but a totally rational albeit strange way to tell how time has passed, by relating my changing position vis a vis landmarks.

I suspect that I will feel more at home in Connecticut when I can extend my little geography from Greenwich to home.

Well, this feels like it could be the end of this post. I'm not sure. But, might as well be. How do I know? I think I've run out of things to say.

Posted by Random Penseur at December 22, 2005 11:53 AM | TrackBack

Of course for me this begs the question of how many stops north of Stamford do you get off the train?

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at December 22, 2005 05:21 PM

You know, RP? One thing I've learned: wherever you go, there you are.

Happy Hanukkah, to you and yours. I hope your holidays are happy ones, and that the year ahead is full of health and joy and even more wisdom than you already possess.

Posted by: Jennifer at December 23, 2005 09:53 PM

Y'really wanna get confused? Read this and this. The comments are as good as the posts and --yikes-- may be just as flailing.

But, then again, if we had all the answers there'd be no sport in this at all, would there?

Posted by: Tuning Spork at December 24, 2005 09:20 PM
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