And anyway, lately I've been more aware of life's refusal to sit still. My sister, Penny's brother and our friend Val have all sold or bought houses in the last few weeks; Katie's not moving far but Tom is leaving the state and Val's off to Mexico.
Alison's physical condition fluctuates with her chemotherapy schedule, though her spirit remains pretty constant. My aunt and my friend Larry's mother are both starting treatment for cancer as well, and my friend Aaron has been getting his Leukemia fixed since February.
Back-to-back visits from my sister and Penny's have further illustrated how quickly people's lives shift; Katie is suddenly embarking on a new experience of solo homeownership (which *I've* never done, so I can't offer much advice) and Brittany is planning for college, recognizing that by this time next year her days will have transformed completely.
Penny's other sister Lauren sends pictures of her expanding belly, reminding us all that absolutely everything will soon change for her and her husband, and that the time when we didn't know that kid -- we don't even know if it's a boy or a girl -- is happily running out.
Now I'm working from home with Penny, establishing practices at random that will probably become everyday habits -- working at this desk or that table, starting at such and such time, grabbing mushroom quesadillas for lunch at the cheapy Mexican place up the street about once a week.
Making it up as we go along.
I miss my friends from work already, though I don't miss the place as much as I expected. I drive by there now and find it strange, not that I'm not there, but that I ever was. But my friends are still my friends; that hasn't changed, thankfully. One friend has moved off to Chicago, struggling to keep up with his new job and adjust to the worst winter in years.
Maybe that's why we like photos so much... they give us the crystalline illusion of permanence, a moment "captured." But they're all just single frames from a continuing movie, glowing out of context to the story and separated even from the frame that came just before, and just after.
Certain pictures seem to reflect that obliviousness; you hold them up and say things like, "Look. He has no idea the tire is about to blow out, or that we'd soon be stuck on the roadside for an hour and a half, wrestling with the jack before we met that nice family from Ontario..."
It's just a nice picture of a happy guy going down the road. And we see it and forget that it's not real; it's not accurate, no matter how many megapixels the resolution.
The main thing we forget, I think, at least in my case anyway, is that a movie, or a memory, or even a day in our lives, is no different. Just a string of images, in order. Sometimes out of order. Between the frame where "he knew" and the one where "he didn't know" is... nothing. Just a momentary space.
Our minds fill in the holes and make sense of the series of images, because that's what minds do. We string experiences together like beads on a necklace, and try to get a good look at how it all fits.
But we never know what's coming. We barely even know what's happening. Pictures give us a nice reassurance that all is unfolding as it should, that life makes sense and fits into an elegant rectangle, but don't be fooled.
It's always blurring.