A Moment in Time

The Day Time Slowed Down

A Moment in Time

Today, I woke up and I immediately jumped out of bed and ran into my day headfirst. I did not stop to think or breathe or anything, I knew where I needed to go and there was no time to waste. And that is how most of my days are now, a constant state of GO-GO-GO. But there was a day not so long ago when I got to flip this routine on its head. And this photo is the most beautiful reminder of that time.

To introduce the context, I took this picture in stealth during the early hours on a Saturday morning. I was sharing a hotel room with somebody I had not even heard of two days ago and we had excitedly gotten up at dawn to watch the sun rise. The evening before, we had shared a cheesecake and my roommate confided in me about something that had eaten away at her for years. And in that moment, while I had nothing to give her, I made her a promise. We would do something, something we had always thought of but never really followed through on. See, we could have come up with anything right then; break curfew and head off for a night out, after all, we were far away from home, so we definitely could. Or we could head into the nearest McDonalds for a late-night snack or we could just take a walk on the beach nearby. But somehow, all we wanted to try right then was to get up early and watch the sunrise. Such a simple request, but one I will forever be glad we settled on.

And so the story goes, we went to bed excited and promptly woke up at around 5:30 am. My roommate went ahead and had a shower, ‘in preparation’, she said. And I got up and stretched my arms and legs. She came out wrapped from head to toe in all the fabric the hotel had provided, from bathrobes to towels to those furry slippers. I went ahead and put on my bathrobe as well and we waited. As we waited for the golden light to creep through the window, time just slowed down for a second.

We grow up pretending we don’t believe in happy endings and those naive movie-like scenes that the big screen shows us, but deep down, we all do. We all want at least one moment like those in our lives, where the perfect song flows through your mind, where the temperature isn’t too hot or too cold, where the air smells nice and where you just feel something you’ve never been able to truly experience.

And this right here, was my movie moment.

Sitting in that hotel room, wrapped in a bathrobe too big for me, miles away from home with a girl I did not know but bonded instantly with, this was my movie moment where I got to experience serenity. Absolute, time halting, serenity. We could hear each other breathing in that silence, and it did not feel awkward, it felt comfortable.

My roommate walked towards the big window and stood there; I couldn’t quite see her to make out what she was feeling but somehow, I thought I could tell that she was feeling the same thing I was. A sense of satisfaction, that rare feeling of belonging, of being a part of something bigger than yourself anticipating the sun rising on its way to wake the entire world up.

And as she stood there, I grabbed my phone quickly, turned down the exposure and snapped a couple of pictures. Here’s another one that shows the layout of the room.

The reason why I love this photo and why I keep going back to it from time to time is that you can sense the peaceful anticipation no matter where you are. That sense of timelessness, of feeling as if you exist on a different timeline at that moment, even though the sun will be coming up in a couple of minutes. But those few moments right before the sun calls has somehow been etched into that photo. And now, months later, I can still go back and feel that sense of peace that I felt when that photo was being taken. You can look at the city in the window or you could look at her silhouette, the feeling they all invoke are the same regardless. And it is so very hard to come across that feeling on a day to day basis, there’s so much growing up to do after all. But that photo, it’s a reminder. That we all get our movie moment, it might not be as flashy or as obvious or as dramatic as we hoped, but we do get it. And importantly, it shows me how lucky we are to be able to record it on our phones for decades to come.

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Salma Abdussalam
See all posts by Salma Abdussalam