Saturday, May 26, 2007

Counting Up, Counting Down

For as long as I can remember, I've measured the distance between today and an anticipated upcoming event by comparison. That is, I calculate the distance between today and the event, then I subtract that measure of time from today and recall what other significant event was happening at that time. It gives me a landmark, a chrono-measuring point, so that I can say to myself "it's no longer from now until **** than it was from **** until now."

For instance, it just recently occurred to me that we're midway between the two Thanksgivings -- we're just as far from Thanksgiving 2007 as we are from Thanksgiving 2006. Christmas 2007 is equidistant from Halloween 2006. This makes time more quantitative for me; I can compare two specific chunks of time, one of which is derived from my own experiences.

The Halloween 2006/Christmas 2007 comparison is particularly strong for me, because I feel like I can recall every event of Halloween 2006 as if they had just occurred. I remember hurrying to finish the salmon, baked potato, and salad we had for dinner so that I would be ready to give out books to trick or treaters; I remember the number of trick or treaters we had; I recall phoning Brett and Kim when the 2006 totals surpassed our prior record year of 2005. I recall holding back one of the watermelon Tootsie Roll Pops for myself because I had never tasted one--and then, when I did give it a try, wishing that I had just given it away instead.

I still have vivid recollections of moving into our house in Rome in 1992; that was more than fifteen years ago, which means that I'm almost as far away from my 69th birthday as I am from that particular touchstone date. My 69th birthday seems like an amazingly distant event... but it's much less removed than it initially sounds.

And when I think about how vividly I can recall such childhood events as buying Flash Annual #1 (I had to walk all the way to the Han-Dee Shop on Shorter Avenue, more than two miles from my house, because no comics-carrying store closer to me had received it, but a friend had found his copy there and I couldn't possibly wait until some closer store actually received their comic shipment!), and I realize that I am as equidistant from my 98th birthday as I am from that memorable day, it's pretty amazing...

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