Petite mort, as the French call orgasm, is a little death but also an ecstasy. And in ecstasy, experience compresses in a single dose of timelessness.
By that logic, my quick trip to Florida last week was a little ecstasy. The past was exceedingly present, pressed onto me as a double being. I’d been in Florida since my college days when my parents started seeking the sun. I was a daughter there, attending a father in a light-spotched room, dying young; a mother overstated with flowers, then also wilting. Myself as a mother. A wealth of significant moments kept appearing. It was like hopscotching the boxes of daughterdom.
Things got stuck in the present. Even though my mom and dad have passed away, I was still in daughter role. The referents were gone, but the rituals and roles clung, I kept looking over my shoulder, wondering who, what was there.
When at a loss, go to literary images: Hamlet. The classic fellow was haunted with the problem of a repurposed family. I was staying in our old house, with a father not my father, and his wife not my mother. Were all these memories at my shoulder telling me something, serving a sign, some urging for action? Some prescience about the future? Shakespeare, the writer who most understood the roles we play, would understand that I kept slipping out of role. Fractured under the sun. Nothing new. All the world’s a stage. Beyond all that, it was a fab trip!