Time and space are connected … at least in our human consciousness. We experience change across times and spaces, transformations that perhaps recur, as in the cycle of days and years, or may have more of a linear trajectory, as if the arrow of time pierces spaces anew to unfold irreversible changes.
Today, the Old Roxboro Highway has become the mysterious ditch running across our property. It is now little more than a notation on a few older maps, probably labelled “Old Roxboro Road.” Trees have gradually reclaimed the path, its depth diminishing as leaves pile up in every fall, and stumps and logs accumulate. The power company has kept half of the old path clear of trees in order to protect power lines running along the path. In a few lifetimes, it will be little more than a depression and a faint witness to labors of digging by human hands, perhaps altogether unaided by machine, to reduce the pitch of hills in Piedmont North Carolina. Where they labored was perhaps little more than a trail followed by iron tires rolling over wooden wheels.
Compressed, such changes in Old Roxboro Road seem quick and tumultous. But in daily life, they creep usually quite imperceptibly. I walk my dog across the old road in the early mornings, and the path hasn’t changed. Our uneventful walk consists of the same views, lighter in summer and darker in winter. Rosie’s turns of head are likewise similar, as if she’s looking for some change of scenery across the road that never happens.
This shift of space — its changes and its stasis — I’m told becomes more noticeable as personal experience piles up in age. I’m skeptical. Time seems compressed, of course, because our days shrink in relation to the span of our years. But minutes in our days beat steadily. A dog’s morning pace doesn’t quicken between my thirtieth year and my sixtieth. Routines persist, and they seem no more rushed as years add up.
In that normal pace, space complies by being predictably the same.
I suspect, without evidence, that many begin retirement with a change of scenery at home: a rearrangement of furniture, a room or two painted, full blown remodeling. A move to a different house or a different city. When my wife retired almost two years ago, we built what our children call the “luxury deck” to replace the narrow, broken-down deck that jutted off the house’s back door. In January 2021, I’ll begin to tear out and then replace the kitchen floor with ceramic tiles that have been stored in the garage for a few years. (You’ll see that project, I suppose.) In December, we moved our study from a big room downstairs to smaller, cozier quarters upstairs. These changes of space may reset and re-civilize (in some fashion) the space of our house to fit new circumstances of living.
I will clean out the garage, by the way. But the boys have to come out to help. Much of the junk is theirs.