Has it ever happened to you that you find yourself in a situation where you feel you’ve
been in that exact same situation before? As if you were repeating your life? A little
bit of Groundhog Day maybe?
I know this is commonly called déjà vu, and while I know what it means in French (namely “already seen”), I looked up what meaning the phrase has taken on in English because what I was trying to describe is more than just visual. Webster’s defines déjà vu as, “a. the illusion of remembering scenes and events when experienced for the first time, b. a feeling that one has seen or heard something before, c. something overly or unpleasantly familiar.”
None of these definitions quite gets at what I’m trying to capture, namely the feeling that you’ve been thrown back in time, that you actually have done the same rather mundane thing before, have been in that same situation.
It happened to me a few days ago when I found myself waiting in the car while my daughter was attending a short meeting at school. The fall weather outside, the drumming of the rain on the car’s roof, the swoosh of traffic going by, all that made me feel as if I had been in that exact same situation before. Rummaging through my mind, I found that I had; more than 10 years ago, I used to wait in the car with the baby while my daughter went to ballet class. The sessions were only 45 minutes, too little time to run errands, and so I would park and, if I got lucky, enjoy some peace and quiet while the baby napped in his car seat. I was even parked the same way, on the right side of the street, facing east. Now I got out the notebook to scribble
down this eerie sensation of being back in time.
Then I settled into that feeling. It was kind of pleasant to be back in time, to have my car transformed into a time capsule, if only for about half an hour. I especially enjoyed experiencing again a rather mundane, repetitive event, namely not something I would actively remember from my children’s early childhood. Just something I used to do and was doing again.
So, if you can think of a term that captures this experience better than déjà vu, let me know. If you can’t, perhaps we need to come up with a new one.