Over on our Instagram page, we’re posting a weekly installation from Clare Johnson’s Post-it Note Project, a long running daily project. Here’s her wrap-up and statement from December's posts.
December's Theme: Time Travel
When I started this project back in 2005, the thought was a simple answer to my own nighttime fears: I can’t stop each day from ending, so I’ll use a post-it note to hold on to something as the rest of the day is slipping into the past. The thing I save could be anything — maybe it’s something that happened, or a person I spoke with, an object or place I observed. Or it might just be a passing thought, something that happens in my head, drawing whatever random impulse turns into a tiny record of my mental landscape. What I didn’t quite understand was how much time travel would happen. Of course I imagined the art might help me travel back to the past later (whenever it is that your normal day weirdly, suddenly becomes the past). But while the dates march predictably forward one post-it at a time, my nightly thoughts jump around in time and space back to other places I lived, people I miss, things I’m hoping for or worried about, questions about the future. Some nights what’s most on my mind is not a memory from that day, but a memory from 10 years ago. Looking at past post-its plops me into moments long gone — but at the same time, it feels like traveling into the future. The me who made that didn’t know what was coming next, but I do now. They’re each records of their own particular present, but I see other pasts and futures all over them too. Those windows are my 2nd freshman dorm room, the one with my good
roommate… but college was years before I started making post-its. I remember drawing this and thinking about our room, but the memory is completely untethered from the grad school flat in North London where I was most certainly located that night. I don’t know which song I meant; it must have reminded me of older life, been its own kind of time travel, probably it’s something I still listen to. I knew I’d miss my friend when they left, but I was still hopeful at that point, didn’t know we’d eventually lose touch altogether, never speak again — no clue how true that missing would be, 6 years on. But I also have earlier post-its from reconnecting after a decade of lost contact; maybe we will still know each other again later, maybe I don’t have to feel so sad for the me that was close to them and didn’t quite see the level of estrangement ahead. Sometimes time travel just happens on its own and I’m a teenager and in my 20s and 30s all at once. I’m driving home late at night listening to some Top 40 station when it confusingly plays a song that was all over radio ONLY EVER THIS ONE TIME at the start of high school, I’m in my childhood bedroom doing homework and thinking ooh, it’s that song by Garbage
and I’m also decades older, in grown-up life. My wisdom tooth coming in and all my stories about friends having them pulled are when we were barely more than kids — we’re so out of date — or I’m in my late 20s, living in England with a wife, having my first wisdom tooth pulled for £27 on that tiny town’s high street under a giant cathedral — but here I am middle-aged in Seattle, a world away, no National Health Service or wife, not a teenager. Now I’m last year’s future me, but I feel just the same.