Déjà Vu

Raph al Guul

Stepping off the train at 18:16. Wearing my black hat with the slim leather hat band. On the phone with Danny, talking about sports. Cold weather, falling snow, already dark outside. And it hits me. I’ve been here before. This has happened before.

I rephrase that in my mind. Of course this has happened before. I take this train every day at this time. I call Danny a lot. We often talk about sports. The weather has been like this for weeks. I always wear this hat.

But it’s not just the scene that’s taking place again; it’s the moment. I have lived through this exact same moment before. A déjà vu, they call it. A simple brain fart. They thought they could fix a malfunction of memory by giving it a fancy French name. Like telling children who know that there are monsters hiding in the closet that monsters don’t exist, expecting them to just accept that. That’s not how it works. I don’t trust the French name or any of the countless theories that try so hard to explain why this moment has not occurred before, even though I know for a fact that it has.

“Dude, I’m having the craziest déjà vu right now,” I say into the phone, hoping that this makes the feeling go away. But as I do that I realize that I have done it before. I remember saying these exact words to Danny in this situation. I don’t know when that situation was, but it occurred. It’s like I’m on rails; a theme park made up of my own memory – I just sit and watch. I have to check. “I have said this before, haven’t I?” I hold my breath, remembering the question and its answer as I wait for Danny to confirm. “Yeah, you have,” he goes drily.

Now I’m panicking a little bit. Snap out of it! Do something you don’t remember ever having done before! In fact, something you would never do. “I like dubstep,” I tell Danny. “What was that? Did you say ‘dubstep’?” Fuck. All of this has happened before. And like the last time, I can’t go through with it: “Never mind.” I take off my hat. There is no reason for me to do that. I like wearing my hat, especially when the weather is as rough as this. My phone in one hand, the hat in the other, I just stand there, staring at the accessory. Danny is quiet, probably getting freaked out about as much as myself.

I wiggle the cheap felt hat a little bit. It says “crushable” on the inside, which I find funny; sounds a little more violent than you’d expect. If you beat my head to a pulp with a baseball bat, this hat’s gonna survive. Good to know, I think. Good to know. “You still there, man?” I don’t remember this part. “Yup, I’m still here. Sorry about that. Things got a little weird – but I think it’s better now.” “Yeah, for a moment there I thought you were talking about dubstep.” “Can you imagine?” “Not really.” I’m back on a straight line. “Exactly. Dubstep stinks. It’s garbage.” “Oh yes. So awful.” “I know, right?” Carry on.

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