Tempus Fugit

28 01 2012

I had the urge to write and no real desire to work on something already in progress. Instead, I looked at my surroundings and took in the sound of the town clock chiming and this is what came out.

Tempus Fugit

It’s funny how time flies.

Moving back to the city I grew up in is in equal measures familiar and alien. As much as this city changes, its core stays the same. There are reminders on every street of my past, the ghosts of remembered actions and conversations pushing themselves forward in my mind for their short moment in the forefront. Then the next street or building comes into focus and forces the ghosts back as others take their place.

I’m seated in a cafe across the street from the closest thing this city has to a central square. It’s a brick paved open area in front of the local mall, raised planter boxes sporting evergreen bushes trimmed into cotton ball shapes, tufts of wheat coloured grasses ascending with swaying stalks like tentative bursts of agricultural fireworks. Trees rise in the middle of the planters, their limbs bare and weeping towards the ground. The wind rustles them and their tips brush the ground, searching fruitlessly for the leaves they have lost

In them middle of the open, a clock is raised on a brick and concrete platform.  The centennial clock. Green and gold, it echoes the Robert frost poem. Green as the city it is celebrating, a hundred years not even a blink of an eye to the senescent cities of Europe and Asia. Gold like the years this city is heading into, the population ever aging and the city itself hemorrhaging jobs and with it the green that this city needs to renew itself.

The square’s clock is one of my ghosts. The low and mournful tones of its chimes, ringing out, carrying on the wind, making its reach arc out further than the silent sentinels of schools and theatres and playgrounds. The sound of the clock carries with it pieces of the ghost of my father.

He was involved with community groups and those have seasonal ghosts that come with them, fading as the heritage weekend, or historical re-enactment passes by in the waning days of autumn. The clock remains, a year-round reminder of both him and the time that pushes me forward on my journey and further away from the moment when his journey stopped.

Time does fly and even though the seconds, minutes,  hours, days, months, and years have stayed the same measurement of time that they always were, I’m finding as I collect more of them, the faster they, and the ghosts that live in between one measure of time and the next, come.

The ghosts used to be grudgingly accommodated, but now I find that as i collect more of them, they have lost their potency. The memories the ghosts carry with them no longer pull up regrets of past decisions, friends grown away from, or thoughts of paths not taken. Instead they serve to remind me of the journey that I’ve already travelled down and how those decisions have made me into the person, and more importantly, the writer that I am.

The writer in me is the curator of my collection of ghosts, separating those with stories to tell, from those that only serve as a milestone, remembering that point in my past, but offering nothing towards my future. The ones with stories to tell wait for me to give them away, covered in words and dressed up in names that are not their own. I will call them fiction, but my ghosts and I, we will know the truth.