Fleeting Time


This photo above was snapped at the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum. A scattering of archived papers on the Wright Brothers. They were all spread in an erased table, some of initial predictions of renunciation and others of their ultimate flight.

As I walked by the table and the surrounding isles, I thought of my own flight and disappearance. I remembered my middle school Art teacher who, in an ignorant yet comical resignation in pronouncing my name, would call me Amelia Earhart. Unbeknownst to him, this was a portrayal of my own plight as an immigrant. The liberation of flight from one place to a disappearance or suppression of my existence in another. The dare of Amelia to fly---a predominantly male endeavor at the time--was similar in the wing of boldness on which my mother flew us out to the United States. On a night's notice, she flew her two daughters out. It was a physical and emotional escape that she was hoping for us; a flight to freedom.

Yet, as many emigrants are aware, immigration is traveling to a liminal space. We bring the past through our identification papers into our present, as our future is written by folios collected in governmental cabinets, stuffy court rooms, and sterile buildings. We become alien registration numbers  that erase our humanhood and identity. We disappear.

But that's only a part of the picture, in this scattered display of our lives in flight. Immigrant or not, we're all fleeing away and into something, somewhere, elsewhere. And looking at these mementos of the past, encased in a museum, I felt our joint sense of transcendental permanence. Looking at the past tangentially allows for a visceral understanding of it, one which knows no bounds of time. What happens in history is then brought to here and how, belonging to an eternal present of which we and the future is also a part. In the present, we become aware of both the past and the future, to contain all three dimensions of time. And it's in this awe, this transcendence of physical space through the mental one, that we can find some sense of liberation . . .