Reticulate, Not Ripple

When people say time isn’t linear, they usually mean to say that it isn’t chronological or that our perception of time is different than time itself but these days I can’t help but feel like that saying is more literal that it’s made out to be. I feel like time is in fact, non-linear as in it ain’t a fucking line: it’s squiggly and convoluted and irregular and its movement is so sporadic that the only reason it’s understandable is because it belongs to a single body (or seems to, anyway).

It’s the opposite of a mosaic, where you can look at a big picture despite its elements being unattached: with time you can look at the vague idea of this giant scramble of parts because its elements are strung together, albeit haphazardly.

It’s four in the afternoon. And it’s Friday. And to my left there are Oreos sitting in an emptied-out Selecta doubledutch plastic tin (plastic?), behind that there are two pink jugs that I forget to take home (or maybe intentionally leave here because I just can’t be bothered)—one of them is empty, the other one is filled with rotting bits of coffee from those days before my sister bought me a coffee tumbler and my coffee would keep getting cold in the morning so I’d just throw some of it out because I couldn’t stand how it tasted. To my left is my officemate, who is wearing white: I can see him from the corner of my eye, lateral to the frames of my glasses. To my right, which is somehow more distant to me than my left is my lunchbox and my copy of J.Strange & Mr. N. And the mouse. And under that, as a makeshift mousepad is my approved leave form—I’m on leave Monday because I suppose it’s about time I got my license. That’s three long days from now—from here anyway, perched on top of the curve it seems long but I know (I think) that once I get out of here and slide down that spiral, it’s going to be Monday and then Tuesday and then I’ll be here again, at 4:13 in the afternoon on a Friday, itching to go and cuddle with my laptop. Time is weird. It’s the hair on a clown. It’s steel wool. It’s the wiring in braces.

Last night I had the oddest episode of having difficulty breathing and so I went to the hospital and got checked out—and everything was alright. They checked my heart, it was alright. They checked my blood pressure, it was alright. They checked my lungs—spotless (their words, not mine). The doctor said the funniest thing: we didn’t find anything but don’t worry that doesn’t mean there’s nothing wrong with you.

He said that I probably have this minor affliction which most people my age and my gender who are small have called floppy-heart disease or Mitral Valve Prolapse which basically means that my heart’s valves might be floppy which causes the palpitations and difficulty in breathing—he said that people with this condition usually feel like their hearts are beating irregularly or like they can’t breathe when in fact that’s just the valve “door” slamming around in their chests. The ECG showed no irregularities. He suggested a 2D echo—although he said it wasn’t really necessary because all my vital signs checked out fine and people with floppy hearts who need treatment usually have severe heartburn or actual irregularities in their hearts which show up on the ECG. So there was nothing to do, really. It’s so strange. The ghost of a condition. I also have mild scoliosis, which apparently is common in people with floppy hearts for unknown reasons; the misalignment carries through.

I’m not sure why but all the okay-ness made me really, really anxious. There was this moment of inexplicable panic when they took the ECG wire things off of me that I just can’t get to the bottom of: like if there was something wrong, I could finally pin-point what it was about me that bothers me. But there wasn’t so I can’t. Not to say that I wasn’t relieved—I was, too. The last thing I wanted was to have to spend a lot of money to stay in the hospital and miss work and the EM launch tomorrow but the ghosty shock of having something that is nothing freaked me out. More so having to pay for it—I know that you pay for the knowledge, but do you?

My dad went to the hospital with me. I was sitting on the bed in the ER and he was sitting on the visitor’s chair. It was so weird—like a fucked up freaky-Friday—because I’m usually the one accompanying him to get his heart checked. And there is usually something wrong. But there wasn’t. I said I wanted to get my kidneys checked. When we were walking out of the hospital my dad asked me why I was so afraid that I had a disorder of the vital organs. Because I couldn’t bring myself to be a better child, I told the truth: because I’m your daughter. My father laughed and said his heart arrhythmia (Atrial Fibrillation) had more to do with cigarettes and alcohol and anxiety, so I had nothing to worry about. And anyway what possessed me to think that his kidneys would affect my heart? And I thought when did it not?

Time is convoluted—reticulated, curling, trying to touch itself. I am 23 and my father is 65. In his bag there are Lotto tickets. He wishes he could still smoke. In my bag there are bus tickets. I wish I could still smoke. My father is paying for his alcohol and cigarettes and stress. I am paying, always, for absence.

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