I realize now that I have been absent for a long time.

My sense of time is bizarre. I can remember things that happened to me, but they are not moored to any reference points. Did I live with Mark a decade ago, or two? How old was I when our cat died? It’s all a jumbled mess of things that I think I did. Sometimes I can piece together enough context clues to anchor the memory to a timeline, often not. Things just happened.

There are pieces of my life missing. Memories that should be there but don’t seem to appear when summoned. When people walk up to me and act like they know me, I just play along. When a friend asks if I remember something, I say “Yeah, that was great.” I almost always get away with it.

I can’t judge how long I’ve been like this. Maybe since childhood. Or after college. I’m certain it got worse about five years ago.

I made a giant mistake and I’ve been terrified of making mistakes ever since. So I stopped making choices. I let my sister pick out all of my clothes. I buy the tires the sales guy recommends. The wife is obviously in charge of anything related to color or decorating. I’ve been gradually abdicating responsibility over pieces of my life. With nothing left to do, I fell asleep.

Fast asleep, I wake up and go to work, staying there only as long as I absolutely have to before I rush home to space out in front of the television. I don’t notice the people around me or what they are saying. I’m not sure what my dinner tasted like or who won the game I was watching. Time marches on without me and I can’t understand how everyone’s memories sound so clear. I’m caught on a ride that doesn’t seem to end.

But then one day I bump into a stranger in a book and he tells me a secret. There is no right and wrong. We are all one. I am important.

I start making choices that bring me happiness. I give away any t-shirt that doesn’t have a superhero on it. I buy the cheaper tires because I don’t care how long they last. I still don’t stay late at work- I come home early and choose to write. I build new memories.¬†And I awaken.

Like a time traveler from god knows when, I open my eyes with no sense of what has happened between then and now. I step outside, blink a few times, and look around with fresh eyes.

Has the whole world gone mad, or is it just me?