– During idle minutes

Like Jimmy, Lydia likes to be extra on time, or early. So, at her urging, we took our seats 15 minutes before departure time on La Balade, a open tram that scoots its passengers along the waterfront in Vieux-Montréal.

We were sitting in the back row, Lydia’s choice, for the best view. I agreed, “Yeah, we have the future in front of us, and the past behind us.” I spread my hands as if introducing a prize on a game show.

Lydia: “Not really. It’s more like the present is in front of us. We can see it.”

Jane: “Okay, yes. I guess it wouldn’t be the future…”

Lydia: “… if we can see it.”

We sit there quietly for a while and watch people who are not in the tram go by us in bikes and on foot. It’s breezy and sunny.

Lydia: “Well, actually, the present only lasts this long.” She holds her thumb and index finger together so that there’s space between them for only a raisin, maybe. “I mean, once I even say the word present…”

Jane: “… it’s gone?”

Lydia: “Yeah.”

The tour starts and we are wheeled up to the locks (west). The narration is on a tape that alternates between French and English. I like tours, but I lose track of the voice on tape.

The driver turns the tram around, and we head east. He stops at the clock tower and gives us 10 minutes to explore. Jimmy and I stand near the river and remark on how swiftly it flows, how huge it is. We go back to our seats in the tram, where the girls still sit.

Grace has turned around, and has rested her arms on back of the seat and perched her chin on them. The girls, therefore, are facing in opposite directions: Lydia, forward, Grace, back. We wait again for other passengers to return.

Grace: “I love the past. I like looking at it.”

Jane: “Maybe you’ll be a biographer.”

Lydia (sighing and rolling her eyes): “I hate the past.”

The tram eventually starts again. This was Sunday.

2 thoughts on “– During idle minutes

  1. There is some famous person quote: “the past is present memory, the future is present anticipation. There is only the present.” Don’t know who said it. I love your post about past/present/future–the metaphor of children and a train–the actual words of the children–the makings of a wonderful essay here.

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