This is where the day begins. / by laurel

This week has been a dream.

I’ve been present in it, but not engaged. I’ve passed through interactions with the transient flutter of a ghost, allowing my eyes to become empty pools of apathy whenever pressed with an interaction I’d rather not have.

Today I get my car fixed. I am sitting (floating) in a stiff leather chair at the Volvo dealership in Orange County (a marked step up, admittedly, from the Volvo dealership in Covina). There is paperwork. There are details. There is insignificant chatter. There is ambient light and noise and A/C. At the next desk over, I hear Troy (Employee of the Year and recipient of an award for Excellent Service in the form of a plaque on his desk) chattering with a customer.

“My desk is the only one between the front desk and the garage.” He makes a sweeping motion with his hands I can only imagine represents the rushing whir of bodies making their way from point A to point B. “…So my desk becomes a catch-all. People just set their stuff here, but…”

Troy is rummaging. He is looking for a pen. He is getting frustrated, though not visibly.

“…in the process, they take all my pens. A good salesman always has a pen, I always say. It’s a tool of the trade.” He insists, finding a pen (although not as good as the one with the brushed steel casing he misplaced). The customer is nodding. Troy is scribbling things onto a pad of paper. Ambient light and ambient noise distract me and I drift to another place. I now wonder if someone collected all the insignificant chatter, all the small talk, all the space-filler verbage and assigned to it some sort of value (monetary or otherwise), what would we have?
If all the mindless prattle could be collected and assigned a chronological space within a day, how much time would it take? Would time still tick with the same regularity? Or would other events—some significant, others silent and unassuming—span great lengths of time, so that a day would look like something rather different in the end?
My days are spent living in this syncopated rhythm more often than not. Douglas Coupland writes about a day being an entire lifetime. “The whole world and an entire life in a day,” he muses. I think if that were the case, time would look very different. I could spend an entire lifetime in one passing instant—a moment which, in real-world time was only five minutes, or five seconds.

I am in Northern California, in a town where cementeculture has yet to arrive. In this town, directions are not given based on the right-left-right grid of cross-streets and boulevards. Instead, directions are a sense of sight unto themselves: Take Hwy 90 until you pass Happy Apple Orchard, then the road will curve and wind for about three miles. At the bottom of the hill, go to the second stop sign, past the post office, and turn right over the railroad tracks…and so on.

Currently we are on a path from point A to point B, but at this moment, time spreads out before us, its brevity only measured by the way the sun collides with the car. We are threading noiselessly through the vertical flurry of pine trees whose branches are punctuated by the beams of late afternoon sunlight. If color were something you could taste, the color of our skin, the color of the sky and the car and the road would be honey. Thick, sticky, amber. We were caught in a black hole, where time ceased to exist.

This is where the day begins. Civilization ends, memory of a former life is cemented in our heads, becoming irrelevant. If life and an entire lifetime could be measured in one single day, this day would be it. In place of insignificant chatter, there was silence. In place of time, there was only the sun, only motion, inertia, light and shadow pulsing through our brains. Leaves and pine needles blurry and whirring, the road an endless ribbon unraveling under the tread of old tires. An entire day and an entire lifetime measured in one single passing moment.

As for me
I could leave the world
with today
in my eyes.
—Truman Capote