On the upside I don’t have to tolerate students staring at their cellphones while I’m trying to talk to them. Are these people raised by wombats that they never learned to look at someone who is talking to them?
I will not have to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous double negatives. I ain’t got no need for no more of that.
I, thankfully, will not have to worry about having a stroke every single time one of my students uses upspeak to talk, turning the simplest of phrases into a question, trying to force me to say “uh huh” every single sentence. Gone.
Oh, and the dastardly parking situation! Gone!
No one coming in late, leaving early, offering excuses instead of doing the work. No one sneezing in class, coughing into the atmosphere, smelling like weed. No one asking me to repeat what they missed or asking me to start over or asking me what they’re supposed to be doing when everyone but them is doing something. No more.
No more standing in a long line for a long time to buy an overpriced, badly made egg salad sandwich. No more lines. Anywhere.
What if this stays like this a long time?
What if I can’t get back into my mother’s place because of all the elderly people with respiratory problems, including and especially her?
What if I touch someone who touched someone and then later, briefly touch someone else, helping them onto the curb, into the store, into their car, and then it starts.
It’s like lungs filling up with glue someone said.
It’s like having no ability to breathe in, someone else said.
“I”m sorry things ain’t what they used to be.”
This evening a writing student wrote about her concerns, and at the end of her email she asked if I’d ever experienced such a change of how things are compared to how things were. I said, yes, I have. Almost twenty years ago now.
She wasn’t born yet.
It was a Tuesday, just before nine, and the sky a cobalt blue, bluer than I’d even known. Afterwards, my office mate and I were walking from the other side of campus around the lake, and we talked about how this all seemed suddenly irrelevant, petty. We didn’t yet know if someone was also bombing the UN, the pentagon, the White House. We just didn’t know anything.
Well, that’s not exactly true. We knew one thing with clarity: We had the absolute conviction that our destiny which had always been our own had suddenly been obliterated.
It must feel like that now, I wrote back to her, like it’s going to last and things will never be normal again. I paused in my typing, imagining her reading my words and perhaps nodding.
Well, I added, We’ll develop a new reality, a new routine, which might include more consistent hygiene, more focused learning, and an appreciation for the small things. The really small things.
Microscopic things. What is essential is invisible to the eye, Saint Euxpery wrote. True, but so is what’s deadly, like microbes, viral ones, which slide without detection into the cheek and then the throat. And then you die.
It wasn’t a rebellion that brought us to our knees, or any sort of invasion. No. Someone coughed. And then, and then, then…
I wish that peace could spread so easily, like fire, like wind, like time. I wish that we’d wash our hands of greed, of pride, of aggravation.
tick tock tick tock tick tock people
times ticking away