Blooming jasmine reminded them of summer swim lessons up the street, like some shared electric chlorine acid trip of freestyle innocence.
But even in the newer, saline water, with each haphazard and slowly remembered gasp for breath up and down the blue tile line of the lane, he felt (yet again) more and more like he was traveling backwards into his past. That to swim the lap was hard again — his body so much longer and older than it had been the last time he’d raced with both his arms and his legs in a tensive buoyancy — was exactly how it had been, before, when he was six, but now somehow transcendental and sublime to be learning again. But this time he was alone, without instruction. Without restriction. Except for the water and a tracer of jasmine.
As if that were a balm applied to the acidification of having forgotten.
But it wasn’t a nostalgia, or a deja vu, or a memory. It wasn’t a loss or an attempt at returning. It was like a redemption and valediction, but wrapped in a temporary feeling. Of something sincere and unexpected and it was a sensation he didn’t quite know how to express to anyone. It would likely sound crazy. Or delusional. Or that he was on drugs; but there were no drugs. He’d try words now but unless it could rhyme, in silence, he wasn’t certain about that, either. He didn’t know what was the origin, all he knew was there were unexpected side-effects; and he wished he could understand the path and process so he could build a recipe around it.
She had been perhaps closest so far, in a way that he hadn’t quite understood himself. And he was glad she had witnessed the side-effect enough to name it. And he agreed; it had been a period of healing.
And in that recovery, from so many things, it was as if he was doing everything he’d ever done before, but again. A starting over — but with the imaginative memories of a time traveler. It was new and different and familiar all at once, unencumbered by any baggage of agony or regret or fear. Two weeks ago it had felt so much like the turn of the century again, and then a few days ago it had been those few precious long years before that, and then in eight days one of the richest fantasy narratives from his childhood would play itself out in the same spaces where it had always, originally, been imaginary. And after that, he wondered, if somehow he travels all the way back to the beginning, to nineteen eighty four, what then?
Would it work like an abridgment? Only the good parts.