Time Travel Is Contentedness
I remember the first time I was here, Rio Maggiore. The sun effused its golden tones off the top of Mediterranean wrinkles gliding past each other. All the way to the bottom, clarity like a mind craves. I pulled my fingernails close to my face and smelled the simple life of a fisherman and a farmer; the pain and reward of that simplicity. You could walk through town and smile at all the old ladies, whose dried-basil skin accepted the same resilience as the village walls.
My marriage wasn’t exhibiting that same bounceback. We fought like I remember my parents being relentless over the pointless. Just before they spent an agonizing three years getting divorced. The way the last animals bicker and bitch over a carcass picked nearly clean.
I tried to fight from a place of love, but it faded to self-defense; preservation.
Living those 6 days on the Mediterranean’s lips, whispering a come hither to my romantic soul, I felt I could just as easily wake up the next day on a fishing boat. Slowly the rocking of the tidal infinite would cease to make me vacate my stomach of breakfast; I would become grizzled. That kind of grizzled that a staring contest with the sea pulls out of a soul. A place once rich and nullifying, that state of mind. There is no measurement for the depth of that stare you acquire. Yet, I felt that the vacancy of the relationship in my all-too-young marriage was giving me that stare too.
I still wanted to burn into her; fucking, making love. Whatever words we lose the point in. But it all turned to a chore. In the sense that the chore was to repeat the conditions of the past to make believe, make believe that you aren’t in a broken moment. State of denial conceived to splint the bridge of normalcy over the uncertainty that is water. Water has no sentimentality, no love. It even lacks identity in the sense that it is a constant dichotomy: to be a plural, a mass, and a singular, massive, all at the same time.
And yet, for all my fears of water, it was in the water where I felt the most liberated. On the cusp of the death that my fears anticipated and pulling apart at the seams with elation. Skinny-dipped and drunken midnight, deserted of a moon, my legs, arms, all pushed bioluminescent algae to light. Slipping into the massive. Fleeting moments of mystical transport, like you are at the very convergent moment when the singular sears into plural.
In the ensuing months that it took for me to give up on the impossible, the time it took to disassemble the marriage, I came to a sort of spiritual mantra. I decided that regret was a silly and wasteful emotion. I’d come to the place where I’d decided, that what’s done is done and you can learn from your past, or your so-called mistakes, but to bury yourself under the concrete floor of regret was ridiculous. Maybe I never really lived my mantra, my philosophy on regret. Maybe I never really understood my own words; maybe I didn’t truly believe them.
I took classes in Electronics and Physics. All of the grad students that came in the bar where I worked helped to collaborate with me on my project. By design, I allowed connections to never be known between two or more vertices in the web of people unknowingly working together.
Time travel is the only way to erase the blemishes of life. Yet, for every blemish, another has to take its place, somehow, somewhere. It’s just how the multiverse works. I didn’t even go back before I had met her, or even before we were married. I foolishly returned just to that little tomato-scented heaven. I left her for that sea, that shoreline. I left her for the smallness I could get lost in.
But I only found myself there. Getting lost in the growing multitude of memories overlapping that I couldn’t differentiate. The voices singular, suffocating on a muted morning of their plural. In the manner of how humans essentialize fish to be stuck in this hive mind.
How many times had I gone back to erase something, shoving new memories in the old slots, still tinted with the predecessors? How many times had I mistaken my dust-laden, half-suspect ignorance as contentedness?