Running Backwards

How desperately I wish to abandon the present. To deny, for a few blissful moments, the chaos of today, this present hour, the overwhelming complication of adolescence. I wait patiently for the day time travel is declared possible by the geniuses of mankind, when they can find a wormhole of sorts, a widening gap in the space-time continuum, a method for traveling faster than the speed of light or whatever those notorious science fiction novels claim to be feasible. For now, though, we are confined in exactly that, the cage of the now. There is no way to repeat, relive, or redesign the events of the past– from birth, to early, fidgety childhood, to the rises and runs of teenagehood running blind. It is all written in permanent marker, every moment irreversible, every last second marked forever and indefinitely on the canvas of life that is born alongside every human soul. Growing up always goes in one direction, never halting for split seconds, never stopping to catch its breath, one-mississippi, two-mississippi. Nothing ever loses momentum. Physics, standing alone as a science, often fails to capture the poetry of time, the most heartbreaking poetry of all.
Would I go? If it were possible– to bravely venture off into realities I have already experienced? I would, without a doubt. I would shuttle backwards and relive every effervescent moment as if they are all happening right now, live and in action, bringing death back to life with a single journey.
The past, to me, has always been one of my most unwavering obsessions. Indeed, it is the product of being a poet, the pure magnetism of everything expired. I have never developed the ability to let go. The future, wild, uncharted, unpredictable, far too daunting– the past, safe enough to bury myself in. I adore what I know; I crumble at what I do not.
Perhaps, in a different sense, time travel is possible. Escape. I feel it in the very core of what makes me human. It hurts me, agonizingly, how the simplest, purest forms send me reeling into the recesses of the girl I once was.
From my window, I see children playing. I see them, skipping mindlessly along the cemented-over fault lines of our cul de sac, running haphazardly in flip-flops and ruffled skirts. They shout to each other, Catch me! Catch me! Catch me! as they run with their arms flailing in every direction, deflated soccer balls stained by the dying sun. In this dusk, they decorate the old neighborhood with such vibrant youth. I wonder what they are thinking. Are they cherishing it? Do they know what they will eventually lose? Catch me.
It hurts to think of how much I can remember. I remember being that small, when the heels of my feet were smoothed and uncalloused– not yet hardened from years of running away. I remember the beauty of priorities: making sure to stay safely within view of the kitchen window so my mother could watch over me while she cooked. I was the master of catching lightning bugs in water glasses, covered by toothpick-punctured saran wrap, watching them flicker on and off and on again, past midnight and into the morning when I would set them free. Childhood was haunted by the dewy perfume of endless summers, dancing in tall grass until the night owls would bid me sleep.
In my magical world, the carefree and utterly lonely life of an only child, I made magic from the simple. On windy days, I would run outside, letting the air fill the space where my front tooth used to live. Cheap plastic pinwheels in hand, I would hold them up to the rhythm of the gusty breeze, letting them spin in unison with the wild tumbling of my hair. God, the freedom of loving so many insubstantial things. Blowing soap bubbles up until they reached the heavens, fragile spheres popped by the backyard trees, craning my neck skyward in attempt to capture every single color refracted back to earth. To this day, I still see that pastel light. Catch me! I can never reach back high enough, at least for now.
Time travel. A concept that thousands of people fawn over: scientists, astrophysicists, poets, children, even. Time travel, universally misunderstood as a process which, if tangible, would require a rocket ship, a teleportation device, a medium of escape. They do not realize it is, in a different light, already possible. From the window of a townhouse, from the window seat of a speeding train, from a casual stroll in the park, memories are everywhere, memories that take me back to breathless eras. I, the girl who once sought solace in the very essence of simple joy. Who feared nothing, sheltered under the wings of those far older and wiser than her.
Catch me. Catch me– always being the one left behind, looking back.

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