You were talking about surfing, I remember. About how the moment you drop into a twelve-footer, time slows.
“Your energy is explosive, high adrenaline, screaming for you to paddle, paddle, paddle, and then suddenly you’re on the precipice, and the second your board dips its nose down, it’s like life becomes a slow-motion video. You can hear droplets detaching from the roof of the wave overhead, you can feel your toes splay, smell the breeze before it hits your cheeks. It feels like an eternity.” You sat up straight in your chair, adjusted your coffee cup before continuing, as if to stress your point. “And then the wave spits you out, and it’s over, and time quickens again. The wave, with all its power, slows time to a near standstill. Fear falls at the lip of it. Your brain stops. All there is then,” you took a sip of your coffee now, “Is the absolute present.”
“That’s the zone,” I said, making air quotes. “There was this documentary years ago about the zone. They surveyed all the happiest countries and people in the world to find out what they had in common, and what researchers found was that all of them had something that took them to the zone. Whether they were rock climbers or classical pianists, surgeons or janitors, everyone experienced that moment of timelessness at some point while doing whatever they do, the moment when you’re so absorbed by what you’re doing that everything else falls away. All that remains is the absolute present, like you said.”
It was our last meal outside, but we didn’t know it yet. Had I known, I would have ordered my own plate of chilaquiles instead of nibbling off yours.
We’d decided to have a date. A proper date! On the heels of the whole Virginia fiasco and on the heels, especially, of you telling me you were turned off by her now because she’d made me feel bad. She had been a bad texter, and had made me feel rejected. I’d told you that in the car a few days earlier, and you responded to her lack of courtesy to me with a protective sort of disdain. You canceled our breakfast with her on the spot.
“She made you feel shitty, and I don’t want to reward her for that. That’s not okay,” you said.