There’s a mood in here today:
A woman walks into Starbucks wearing a shirt that says FREE HUGS in large letters, and lower, in smaller print: Don’t touch me. She leans back against the wall while she waits for her order, like she’s daring someone to approach her.
Two other women sit in the near dark and don’t remove their oversize sunglasses as they eat their heated muffins and stare at their phone screens.
The table near the bathroom is free, which is great, because it has a power outlet, and not great, because bathroom traffic passes that way, but it’s where I sit.
There’s work to be done, and the clock is ticking.
I have two hours to write before my next Zoom meeting.
Without specifics, it feels like the world is crumbling. In the news, people do horrible things to other people, in the name of their beliefs. Closer to home, people I love are sick and waiting for answers or relief. I’m in limbo, waiting on responses to a half-dozen things. The in-between is a tentative space, like a bridge that might crumble when I’m only halfway across.
It feels like the right time to drink hot chocolate and eat buttery cookies and read some Mary Oliver poems. If there was a button that could stop the world, just for a few days or a few million years, I’d push that thing right now.
Can’t we all have just a bit more time?
In my little corner, I’m down to three more teaching days, one-workshop-discussion-day, one more final to write, one literary magazine launch event, a towering virtual stack of things to grade, and my own life to live around all of that. The list greets me every time I log onto my computer, and no matter how much I pick away at it, it never fully goes away.
“Some of my professors are so far behind on grading,” one of my students lamented yesterday. “In one class I haven’t had an update since week three.”
While this is horrible—I’d be pissed if I were on the receiving end of that non-grade—that did make me feel a bit better. I’m only one week behind, not twelve, after all, and so I have adjusted my level of panic accordingly.
I will get done with all of this, somehow. Maybe it will be with wild, high-fiving success. Maybe there will be failures, hopefully minor, and hopefully the people I have failed will be forgiving. Maybe they will extend me grace as I am learning, always, still, to do myself.
I wish the same for you.
Paula Treick DeBoard