It is a birthday (mine). It is a new president, though the old one won’t go, his sullen resistance rooted like a fungus, metastasizing in bulbous nodes. We who find this dangerous, the 50.9%, seek light and air.

We wear our masks, which have acquired a kind of chic, I almost think, especially the black ones with the edgy beak. We are all of us practicing to be ninjas. My student, who wears a hijab, and now, of course, a mask, looks comfortable. But we are all relaxing into our protective coverings.

I finally figured out how to open the windows in my classroom, and the sunny breeze filled us up. Seventy-three degrees in Boston, in November, think of that. Each student desk on its little circle on the floor: Sit here. We do, all of us in Wonderland: Enter here. Exit there. Take one wipe only. Daily Self-Assessment Check. Check! Sometimes a student says: send me the recording, please, my roommate is sick and I am quarantined. Or: send me the recording, please, I am sick. And once: I am really sick. I am going to sleep for a few days. May I have an extension?

Your professor has sent you a link.

And: please, take as many days as you need.

And: how are we all doing today? It’s 73 degrees. So that’s good (bad).

And: my democracy websites tell me this is not a coup. We do not (yet) have to jump into the streets.

It is my birthday. My son does not understand why I have no interest in presents. Everything is a present, I tell him. The breeze, the air, the sun shining hotter than it should. The old dog behind me, breathing evenly. The young dog next to him, breathing evenly. The ocean we drove to last weekend to walk barefoot in, with the dogs, when it was 77 degrees. Lastness of summer before winter. Even the winter coming for us, real winter, arriving in its inevitable time with bare-branched beauty, against a russet duvet of leaves billowed against hedges. Each fallen one a reminder of life. Thousands upon thousands. Too many to count.

Published on November 20, 2020