It is a privilege to go through the same town, to watch it change and evolve, like a friend changes, whose dreams change with them and who slowly settles into a calmer version of who they used to be. I think of this as I drive around with my friends around town, recalling how cafes, bars, and even small joints for street food, were all gone or changed or replaced, and if nothing else, renamed. The passage of time was my only comrade, and it was also my only adversary. All people felt some things stronger, more vividly than other people did.
Time passes; there are no years when we look back, only hours—hours, or at best, days. The gap, the empty space, is what we talk about when we say we lost time. You remember how there used to be a cafe where there is now a bank, and a cafe where there used to be a bank, or that the two brothers who ran a food joint split over a feud, or how the place you used to frequent, the one with a story on every table had now shifted to another location—with new tables, and with them, the hope of new stories. To find a semblance of constancy in this untameable flow of what we call time was a blessing. I think of this as we arrive at one of the few places that have not changed as much. That is to say, some tables are the same, and you can still see the sunset from there on a good day as you have your coffee.
I could always feel the passing of time like one feels their breath—tick, tick. Once we become conscious of our breathing, it only gets harder to breathe for a little bit; once we become aware of time, it becomes harder to let it pass without trying to do it correctly. And just like there is no correct way to breathe, there is no right way to let time pass. There is a reason we call it passing. It moves on its own, and for a little bit, we go with it, and then it leaves us behind. As morbid as this thought sounds, there is freedom in it. Perhaps, I would have been a different person if I was not so attuned to noticing this laminar flow of time.
Just then, I am interrupted. What are you thinking about? They ask me. Nothing, just time, I chuckle. This interruption, too, was a privilege.