This One Time, 23

This one time I … heh. Did I say “this one time”? Yeah, it was this one time. It’s also right now.

You’re familiar with déjà vu, right? When you’re really sure that what you’re experiencing is something you feel you’ve been through before, even though it’s maybe unlikely or impossible. You’re talking to someone, or jogging along, or sitting in a chair waiting, or doing something, anything, and then there’s this overwhelming feeling that sometimes you can work past but most of the time it makes you stumble to a halt, this feeling that this moment in the present is overlapping strongly with a moment in the past, and it’s accompanied by, I don’t know how to say it, like maybe someone just cranked up the volume on the world, like clicking the “loudness” button on the controls of an old stereo, but not just for sound. For all of your senses.

And then it slowly fades.

When I was a kid this kind of thing would happen pretty rarely. Two or three times per year, tops. And it wouldn’t be for anything significant. Riding my bicycle helmetless through a wooded trail in our little neighborhood. Sitting in the backyard swingset with apples and pears still hanging green on the trees, sun shining through the filter of a wind that still has a bite of chill. Dodging people in the mall trying to keep up with older people with longer legs. A sudden flurry of wings as a flock of blackbirds decide they’re done with your magnolia’s bright red seeds and move along on their migration route. Sitting in a classroom, looking up from some math problems and watching a girl bite at the eraser on her pencil. And you remember the déjà vu more than you remember what it was you were supposedly remembering or reliving.

I’ve read about it because it’s of particular interest to me. It’s still very up-for-grabs what déjà vu is and whether it is significant at all. Some neuroscientists feel it’s a hiccup in the brain, some chemical spasm that changes how you store memories so that for the duration, what you are experiencing goes straight into long-term memory. I’m no neuroscientist myself, so I’ll say maybe. But there’s no real discussion of why and what triggers it.

The reason I’m interested is it happens a lot to me lately. Where it used to be a couple of times per year, it’s now a couple of times per week. And it’s distracting as hell.

In my need for explanations, I’ve started fantasizing my own answers to my question. Making stuff up. Each moment of déjà vu is a moment of significance because embedded in it is a chance to make a tiny choice that will change the course of your future. Or each déjà vu experience is an actual loop in actual time where you can leap back into the past or into the future with just a tiny act of will at the point of the overlap. Or each occurrence is the hand of an angel burning the experience into you so that you’ll remember the important detail embedded in it when the time is right. Or it’s just a case of mental hiccups and it doesn’t mean anything.

But none of those little fantasy explanations give me anything toward why the feelings are getting stronger and more frequent. Or why, in general, I feel some kind of sense of impending doom regarding this. That there is some sort of crisis coming during which this feeling will get switched on, stuck on, forever, and that it won’t just be some sort of personal mental illness.

So I’m writing this now. And it feels like I’ve written it before, taking care to use the same words I’ve used before dozens of times, hundreds of times. And even though I can feel then ending of this coming, I feel that I’ll be writing it a thousand more times, overtyping on top of itself in the timeline, fearing that, like in the olden days of typewriters, the strikers from these mental keys will smash themselves into the equivalent of the ribbon and the paper and the roller again and again and again and again and again until they eventually punch their way through.

God help me.


January 23, 2011 · by xalieri · Posted in This One Time  


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