Mother is coming to visit and she is walking incredibly slow. Slower than an aardvark or an ant-eater. It’s her age, and I don’t mind, but I never realized how slow she walked. Or was that how fast I had become. Her slow was a snail’s pace without ambition. Everything and everyone else moved fast around her.
The lights from neon adverts flickered at light-speed. Things that I had never seen before appeared to me in garish detail. The blackened fingers of a homeless man. The furtive glances from potential thieves. Girls and boys pouting on street corners. Mother continued to walk slowly, determined to get to the next seat.
I however was forced to slow down. To recognize time and how it appeared. Slow and quick. Interchangeable depending on perspective. ‘Life is short.’ She would say to me while sipping on her Chardonnay and smoking her umpteenth cigarette. But to me life felt long. Even timeless. Without limits. Limits to me of course and my finite existence but un-limitless in its boundless nature.
Mother’s pace forced me to slow down and as the day wore on she got even slower. The buildings loomed in and out of view. Noises crashed around my ears. I would stop and turn around and wait for her to catch up. Her determined pace. Her steely ambition. Her resistance to the changing norms and behaviours.
The young and beautiful swooped around us on red and gold bouncy trainers. On futuristic Segway’s the arrogant young swung through the crowds. They moved so quick we might as well have not existed. So slow. Slower than time. Her old age. My middle age. Their eternal youth. The song of urban timelessness.
She was where I was heading. They were where I had been. I was holding onto one dream but not wanting to accept the nightmare future of slow, slow, quick, quick, slow. Mother was coming and everything was slowing down. Time was always my best friend but now appeared as my enemy.
I consoled myself in misguided esoteric thinking. I was not me. I was not time. I was not Mother. I am the ‘I’ that was never born, and will never die; but oh how I cried when My Father died. The pain on her face was as palpable as the pain in my heart. I ordered a coke and she another Chardonnay. She lit up another cigarette and I marvelled at her chutzpah. ‘Life is short.’ She said again. Maybe it was.