family time

There was a moment in Dachau when my mother and I were waiting for our meal at an italian restaurant when I felt how time is experienced precisely as Philip K Dick wrote about in his Exegesis and VALIS.

Meals in Europe are leisurely events, forcing us to slow down and make room to think, however I was agitated; morose from having just visited the Holocaust memorial site at the camp and frustrated with the conversation we were attempting to have. We were talking about the past, mine and my mother's, and I had to say out loud that I had spent the last decade in Texas and it had gone by so fast.

After I said it I paused and looked at her. I saw a frown on her face that she wore when she was my age. I realized that ten years ago could have been forty or fifty and I saw her as a younger woman unaware of the next ten years because she was still living in the last ten years. Time overlaps in this way and when we look directly at the present we can see it all plain as day. I stared at my mother across from me and could see past what she was doing at that moment and into her future when she will still be with me

I remembered feeling the same way when I read the timeline of the day the Camp was liberated in the museum. It felt so incredibly close, as if it had happened in my lifetime as opposed to right before it.

I talked to a 70-something year old woman today who said she finally read a journal that her and some friends had jointly kept during their trip to Europe over 60 years ago. She was 19 in 1952 and on that trip she learned her father had died. She had to leave, but her friends kept writing in the journal and gave it to her when they returned.

Only now did she feel she was ready to read those entries written after the death of her father. She said even as an old woman she felt 19 again, processing war-torn Europe and the sudden loss of her father. She said she was grateful that we aren’t just our emotions-those alone could kill us-but physical beings in a space where we can just experience them. It’s that memory coil concept that Philip K Dick gets at. We’re constantly being informed on a loop by the past present future and time is a construct of this experience but it is all happening at once.