Time will go as fast as it fancies to.
That is what September has taught me.
In August, time almost dragged until the very end. Every day barely passed, every day lasted years.
Until it was September.
The first few days of it passed the same, two weeks of book research and Driver’s Test handbooks, until I got an email.
It was from the Choreographer and Director who had been in charge of the So Now You Know show that I was in at the end of my Junior Year, almost a couple of years back. The last time I had seen her was the day before everything had shut down.
So many things fell apart that day. The internship I was going to start at a local theatre fell through because of the required closures, my school show was canceled because of the immediate social distancing requirements, and my entire school shut down almost minutes after those announcements. So Now You Know was the only thing we had left.
I remember I was sick. I had the flu, the most horrible flu I had ever felt, (mostly, as my therapist and my parents had later agreed, because I was spreading myself far too thin) and was sent to sit in a corner far away from everyone else. (Understandably. I can’t imagine the panic of having the flu NOW around a group of people, even small as we were.)
I sat and listened as one of the older ladies of the cast read the director’s texts aloud, announcing the canceling of practices today and from here on out, at least for the next two weeks.
We all know what happened after that.
So two weeks into September of 2021, sitting there, reading that email, something in me came back to life. A passion for theatre and music that I thought had died, made itself incredibly present, sucking on my heart like the worst love bug to exist.
I said yes without thinking, and immediately I went into panic mode.
Things have changed since then. I’ve changed since then.
During the pandemic, I gained back the weight I had lost and then some. I got a job, I quit the job, I graduated, and got another job.
And even after all those changes, I felt myself sink back into that same sulking position. “How the hell am I going to make the time?”
But I had already said yes, I had already committed.
And so, I went into my most famous, “I don’t know, but I’ll figure it out,” mode. It’s a mode I share with my dad, a mode my mother hates.
Despite her Sagittarius status, my mother is a planner. She hates having to plan things, but she is comforted in knowing it’s done, and it’s a mode that I also share, some of the time. Though I apply it to the big things, like vacations and contingency plans, she applies it to everything, the same way my dad does with figuring it all out.
I don’t know who is right, if anyone, but I’ve found that we’ve all been able to fix or solve or figure out the things that went awry.
I waited until I got a schedule, almost three days later, to bring it up to my manager. I discussed with the director which dates were definitely required, which ones were okay to miss, and then I sat down with my ASM.
Sitting in her office for those ten minutes was the first time my world had slowed down in days.
The day before, I had gotten the news that my Tia had passed.
My grandmother’s sister and closest companion, my mother’s second mother. The person who taught me that the sun and the moon were friends, and that Juan Gabriel songs were meant to be screamed, not sung.
My mom woke me from a nap in tears, and I took the dog out on a 9pm walk in a blank stare.
That night, I sobbed to a movie I watched with her once, amongst the women she raised and loved, all of us cramped in the living room, sprawled across the floor and laying on the couch. My Tias and my cousins and our grandmothers, glued to the TV on Christmas Eve to take in the sisterhood of Kit and Dotty from A League of Their Own.
I was six then, and it feels so far that I can’t tell if it was anything more than a dream.
Maybe a dream is all it was.
But that’s how I’ll always remember her. Embracing her sister, hugging her grandchildren, giving every single one of us, six to forty, daughter or niece, a kiss on the cheek and stroke of our hair, to let us know that she was there.
The last time I had seen her was sometime in June or July. She lived in Mexico, but she was always in the states, usually Arizona. This time, she had come to visit her sister, my grandmother.
It was for mother’s day, a late gift, a painting party. We sat in the backyard under tents, and painted sunflowers. My Sisters, my Brother, my Nina, my Mom, and my almost identical Grandma and Tia. They sat in the shade and painted side by side, talking and laughing and whispering to one another, words that must have been sun-soaked.
We played music and ate sweets and showed each other our pieces, gawking at the smiling pair’s, because of how absolutely magnificent they had come out to be.
She took pictures of everything.
I went to work that next day, after I heard the news. I would have called off, but I needed something to do, else I’d just be crying all day, which wouldn’t help anything. Plus, I had promised the director an answer, and I didn’t want to break that promise.
People could tell something was up, but I didn’t tell anybody, until someone asked. Even then, I dismissed the condolences and the kindness, because anything remotely close to the two would send me into tears.
Stepping into that ten-minute meeting, I swallowed down every ounce of sadness and explained the show’s situation. How I’d been waiting for the opportunity to come back to me for over a year, how vital it could be to my writing, to my resume. All things she’d known I’d been dreaming of since the day I came in for my interview.
She said yes before she even knew the schedule.
With the holidays coming up, and me working in retail, I was almost sure that the answer was no. I’d allowed my stomach to sink before I’d even come in to ask the question.
But she was excited for me. A little exhausted at the idea of having to work around specific dates, but excited.
When she said yes, I started to tear up, and she freaked out a little bit. I told her about my Tia, she shared her condolences, and I stood up very fast. She said to tell her if I needed anything, and I said thank you, and that I’d send over the schedule as soon as I could.
I left and didn’t think about it again.
I spent the rest of the weekend with family. We told stories of my Tia, we caught up with one another. We laughed more than we cried, but we all had red and tired eyes.
The next day, my cousin’s birthday, I went over to help her grade. Spent time with her and my Tias, and my baby cousin, whom the pandemic has been keeping from me.
And then I went back to work again, and everyone went back to where they had traveled from, and September went back to it’s speed.
I sent the schedule to my manager, I picked a date for my behind-the-wheel test (Oct. 27th, so wish me luck! I’m going to need it), and I started to prepare for the chaos that the next two weeks are bound to bring.
Like today. Today is my cousin’s birthday. She turns eight, which is absolutely insane.
In many ways, this kid is my youngest sister. (By title, she’s my God-Sister, so I’m not too far off.) I’ve known her since before she was born, when she was just this tiny thing that kicked the heck out of my Nina’s stomach.
Now she’s a full-grown kid, walking and talking and making movies and picture edits of our grandparents.
Watching her makes me realize that we are all much older than I thought we had become.
My brother is sixteen now, my other sisters are ten and nine. I’m about to be 18, in a little over two weeks.
We are growing and changing at a rate that I had not anticipated. And it scares me.
September was the realization that time can not come back. That time is precious, time is sacred, time is passing.
And that was one of the most daunting things to face.
But reconnecting with family that I hadn’t seen in months, some even years, felt good, despite the how and why. I could feel my Tia bringing us all together, watching us and laughing with us, wherever she was. Wherever she is.
This post is dedicated to my Tia and the rest of my family.
For the accents she pumped into all of the words we speak, and the passion for life that she made sure we would remember.
I love you guys. I can’t wait to see you all again.