January 26th, 2011


The wait

Having been waiting from a very early age, one would have thought I would be good at it by now, but I am an absolute failure when it comes to biding my time and carrying on while expecting something. Seconds trickling through the course of my day are like Chinese water torture carving into my feeble sense of sanity. Deafened by the ticking of my watch I find myself in a muted world of diminished substantiality: objects with blurred outlines coursing vaguely through my field of vision, without coming into contrast; the jagged awareness of the sense of waiting in the foreground of my shaken consciousness in sharp opposition with the viscous flow of the impalpable reality.

I am five years old. I am one of about thirty children waiting to be picked up from daycare. The work day is drawing to a close, and the teachers are already anticipating their freedom from the noisy brats. Having already taken several doses of headache medicine throughout the day, they suggest a game: “who will be silent the longest”. With the competitive spirit on the rise we all sit on low chairs along the wall and press out lips shut tightly, lest out defiant spirits escape without permission. As 6 o’clock approaches parents start dropping in one by one, hands full of grocery bags, heaving slightly, looking harassed by their adult worries. They smile at the teacher, gesture for their precious prince or princess to get going, and bolt out of the door, looking grateful at the opportunity to cut off the polite small talk before their kid’s misdeeds are remembered. There is no clock in the room, and at this point only adults wear watches, so I am stuck sitting on a little wooden chair, trapped within my own silence, for minutes, hours, ages. I am a prisoner marking the passing time with my nail on the piece of gum I discover stuck to the underside of the seat. The sun is swallowed up by the night that sets abruptly. More parents arrive, more children leave. Soon enough I am a prisoner in solitary confinement. I help clean the room with the hope of negotiating parole a little sooner. As I shine the floor together with the cleaning lady that looks at me with a mixture of tenderness and sympathy I try not to dwell on the question of “how long”. Besides, what’s important is that I know that my parents have not forgotten me. They just have more important matters to attend to, I suppose.

One would think that over twenty years spent waiting for this, that, or the other would have been enough to perfect this skill. But rather, all age has done is made me more impatient. It made me lose the Zen-like peaceful resignation to the undeniable and merciless power of time. As my whole world focuses around this void that expects to be filled, I crumble and fall to pieces, which still are not enough to fill it. This black hole engulfs all my emotion and demands more still. I fade, trapped in an hourglass, where I am the one barring the sand from falling through. I wait, counting time in heartbeats, in exploding suns, in newly conceived lives and human tragedies, in childhood dreams of growing up faster, in reminiscences of a war veteran. I count time in drops of water seeping through my tear ducts. I count time.

All for a fucking phone call.