No. 74 – The Time-Traveling Wife

It did not take long to figure out that my wife’s perception of time was different than mine. I sort of live inside an hourglass, and I feel every grain of sand as it falls and hits me on the head.

Hyper. Time. Aware.

My wife is somehow the opposite of this. I suspected for a while that she was missing some key chemical in her brain that allowed her to mark the passage of time…leading to extremely predictable life-patterns, like being unable to track with reality when it came time to leave for some function or meeting:

ME: “We need to leave here in like 20 minutes, are you going to be ready?

WIFE: “Oh yes, I just have to…(trails off, staring into iPad)”

ME: “Just what?”

WIFE: “Hair”

ME: “What?”

WIFE: “Hair. (focusing back on me) I just need to do my hair and then I’ll be ready to go.”

ME: “OK, so we have 19 minutes until we have to go…so…”

WIFE: “I thought we had 20 minutes!”

ME: “Well now it’s more like 18 and a half…”


~ 18 and a half minutes later ~

ME: “Coats on, kids! (to wife) Are you ready to go?”

WIFE: “What?”

ME: “It’s time, are you ready?”

WIFE: “What? You just said, like two minutes ago, that I had 19 minutes!”

ME: (looking at phone) “No, that was like 20 minutes ago.”

WIFE: (squinting at the clock) “How is that possible…”

ME: “I’m not sure, honestly, let’s go, we’re going to be late.”

WIFE: (sigh) “I’ll go out looking like this then……….do I look OK?”

ME: “Yes. Amazing. Let’s GO.”

Usually we were still on time, even when we would ‘leave late’ because ultimately I had to start lying to my wife about what time we needed to leave, just to buffer against the 15-20 minutes of time-slippage that seemed to occur between our two realities.

Then one day I came across a post online about how some cultures perceive time differently, something I had been vaguely aware of but not really studied. (Turns out Asian cultures perceive time circularly!) As I was digesting the article and thinking about quantum physics and space time and all that fun stuff, I suddenly was struck with a vision of how my wife perceives time differently than I do, and it’s not that there’s anything “wrong” with her, it’s just that she moves through time differently than I do, sort of like time-traveling.

If you think of time as being like the surface of the ocean, I’m usually skimming across the top like a hydrofoil, moving really fast, and I can see clearly in all directions, mark my time of arrival at any given point, etc.  Here’s a picture of a hydrofoil if you don’t know what they are:


Yeah, they’re cool.

Also my life is cool, but kind of tiring.

My wife, however, spends A LOT of time under the surface of the ocean. She travels forward more like a Sin wave (like, as in math) where as the curve goes above the middle line, that’s kind of like her coming up for air and having a look around. At reality. Here’s a picture of one if you don’t like math:

sin wave

However, unlike how the image above would imply, rather than spend 50% of her time in the open air, I’d say that probably only about 20% of her perceptive powers are focused on the broad plane of reality (above the surface) and the other 80% are burrowed in some sort of free-dive into one thing or another, boiling a turkey carcass, teaching the kids French, studying homeopathic theory, etc. It makes her very, very good at learning stuff, but then she also struggles in being able to hit a fixed point in space at a set time.

Because when she’s ‘under water’ it’s like the time above the water is moving independently, usually faster, than she is perceiving time under the water. Meaning she will put something into the oven, forget to put a timer, and then just glance down at her phone. Next thing you know 35 minutes have some how slipped past her and only the screams of our children about ‘smoke and death’ in the kitchen bring her above the water to where she finds the meat pie suffering:

WIFE: “CURSES! I only looked away for a moment, how??? Argh…this is so frustrating.”

When I explained my epiphany of her alternate reality of time perception and gave the above example as Exhibit A of the phenomenon, she immediately started laughing and agreed that was exactly how it felt.

So apparently by hyper-focusing, my wife is able to trade awareness for depth, or something like that. I have chosen to accept my wife in this, although not without spending a great deal of time trying to ‘fix’ her.

Turns out she’s just different.

I suspect there are many time-traveling wives (and husbands) out there, comment below if you live with one or ARE one (you know who you are).



ME: “Do you have any carcasses?”

SHOP OWNER: “What kind?”

ME: “Oh…(squinting at list) chicken parts, turkey necks…lamb skin…stuff like that?”