Sometimes time seems like it’s purely the way we experience it and nothing more. The time it takes for a fossil to form and the time it takes for a dragonfly to molt. I wasn’t there for the Pleistocene, and so its duration is to nothing for me, no more than a concept, an abstraction.
Meanwhile, when I’m waiting for something to happen, time can move glacially—another climate metaphor for how we speak about time: the last time we were so cold, the waning influence of ice on our cultural understanding of time—and then suddenly time seems to skip along, and I wonder where it goes so quickly.
I turn 31 in a two weeks, meaning it has been almost ten years since I came out to myself as trans. The time spent as before seems to shrink in comparison every year. I am my own albedo effect. Pieces of my former self that no longer serve calving off the whole. What else can I shed? Enduring jealousies? Lingering self doubt? Throw it all in while I’m at it.
Recently I’ve been helping a family member deal with their own changing self in the face of old age. I’ve had a lot of time to prepare for this, and still it feels like sand—or ice—is slipping through my fingers. We lay sand over ice to keep our footing, but ice covers over and preserves until the thaw. I’m always balancing on this knife’s edge of wanting to forestall change, while simultaneously admitting that there’s nothing I can do but accept it gracefully, and so why fight it? Life, gender, weather—all the things in myself and others that rise and fall according to certain variables outside of our control, with no thermometer that will measure all of them and tell me what to do. I think I’m trying to write that instrument. An instruction manual which will contain very little action but lots on what I thought while I was going through it, hoping that by reading how unsure I was about it all, you might find that someone once accompanied you on the same journey.
Each of us has faced down change that happened too fast. We’ve watched a life slip away. We’ve witnessed our communities grow unfamiliar, known many people there and then fewer and fewer. We’ve seen something burn and saw what came after. We don’t need a New Yorker article to make us feel these things; there is a reservoir of wisdom we have built over the years, and now we need to blow up the dam or listen.
What I’m Reading
The intro now freely available on Duke University Press to Thinking Like a Climate by Hannah Knox. It does a pretty good job so far of thinking through the different meanings of climate versus weather in conversations about the future of our planet: https://www.dukeupress.edu/Assets/PubMaterials/978-1-4780-1086-9_601.pdf
As I wrap up several months back east with family, my husband and I finally stumbled into the tiny comic book store in town. I can really take in little else aside from the juicy gay kisses between Hulkling and Wiccan right now in Young Avengers. I’m not sorry.
What I Wish I Was Reading
Something funny. I could really use more humor in my life right now.
Know something that sounds like this? Writing something like this yourself? Let me know!
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