I write these words while I fly from New Jersey to California – passing over Illinois, Nebraska, Nevada, the whole middle of America that I sometimes forget exists – as I realize that I am on a time machine.
Well, I’m on a plane, but your mind goes to a special place when you’ve been sitting in between a baby that alternates between being heart-meltingly adorable and the worst thing on planet earth at random intervals, and your mother, who seems to need to use the bathroom every half an hour, for the past who-knows-how-many hours. When you’re in that special place, an airplane and a time machine are the same thing.
I say this because the plane had taken off from Newark International Airport at 11:00 AM and will arrive in LAX at 1:00 AM after spending five hours and nineteen minutes in the air. If this sounds like the set-up to a weird riddle, let me tell you that the answer right now is time zones. There are two hours between 11:00 AM and 1:00 AM and there are five hours between 11:00 AM and 1:00 AM and both of these things are somehow true at the same time. I can’t help but feel like I’ve lost three hours that I know I had somewhere. Where did they go?
(Okay I know where they went. I watched like five hours of Chopped in two hours while pretending the complementary trail mix was the wagyu beef in the mystery basket. Also, funnily enough one of the contestants on one of the episodes was from Jersey City, went to Rutgers, and made a fat sandwich for the appetizer. I was morally obliged to support her no matter what. The episode was the Midnight Snack Attack episode, if anyone’s curious).
I think I have this obsession with time. Actually, that isn’t an “I think” statement. I know I have this weird obsession with time and if you know me in real life, you know I like to say that time is fake and maybe that’s true. Maybe time is a social construct, a system designed to measure the space between one moment and the next, and the only thing that is real are those moments themselves, but it feels real. And if it feels real then can it be fake?
Apparently I get philosophical when I’m on an airplane, or maybe this is the result of running on four hours of sleep for the past couple of days, but if I can’t think weird thoughts while sitting a metal tube hurling through the sky at who-know-how-many miles per hour, where and when can I? I’m living in a missing hour in the middle of nowhere in particular. The world is a strange place.
Right now it’s 12:05 PM but it is also 1:05 PM, just like it’s also 11:05 AM and 10:05 AM based on where the sun is in the sky? Is that what time is? A measure of the way the sun hits the Earth at any given moment? I wonder.