I wonder how many other people read the news regularly but don’t talk about it daily, don’t draw it out from whatever crevice it occupies in our memories, unless – as chance would have it – there’s reason to draw it out and observe it.

I wonder if, even as it sits in the dark, unmoving, it somehow retains shape–if it serves as a kind of thread throughout each day, the same way a morning weaves into evening.

I wonder what kind of fabric that must be, lately, with the news as horrible as it has been.

Is the air a little thicker? Is it a little harder, sometimes, to think?

I wonder if it’s just me.


I’m not sure what to say, though I’ve been trying to say it for nearly a week.

I’m just so happy that I can feel things.

I’m so happy for this sometimes unbearable consciousness, this relentlessly focused witness of life, this sweeping affirmation of reality that seems to rip out my senses and light them in towering, invisible flame–this craving, so sweet and searing at the same time, to continue life even in fear at how close it can all be.

I am so happy to be horrified, and sad that he could have been so unafraid.

Swing your weight around

I don’t know much about contra dancing because I only recently tried it for the first time. I also don’t know much about dancing in general, but of course, I’m going to write about it anyways.

Contra dancing is social by classification, though more than that, it’s social for its fundamentals. Much of it, I soon found out, is built on trust. Everyone chooses (and chooses to trust) a partner, who becomes the person you swing with and, in my case, step on the most throughout a dance. But as you work your way down the line, you often dance with your neighbor, and your neighbor’s neighbor, and your neighbors three times removed: people you probably don’t know and can only trust that you can trust.

And throughout it all, as you’re swinging and allemand-ing and getting generally dizzy, you all abide by the principle of giving weight: leaning slightly away from your partner and keeping your arms tense, so one of you doesn’t fling off and the other doesn’t fall to the ground.

Unfortunately (or fortunately, for my own sake), I was much quicker to understand the importance of giving weight in contra dancing than I have been in everyday life.

Growing up I always placed immediate importance on pleasantry, on being as easy as possible to get along with. I held it like a badge of honor all throughout childhood that in every class, in every grade, I was known as “the nice girl,” and to adults, “sweetheart.”

Even now, as many other women can probably relate, I am called “sweetheart” as if I were still that 10-year-old girl. But that’s for another day.

More importantly, even with the people I’ve gotten to know more complexly and who see me (I hope…) as more than just “nice,” it took me a painfully long time to understand that, like any partner in a contra dance, they wanted some weight. What would make them happiest is knowing they’re getting a real-life, i.e. sometimes contradictory, sometimes unpleasant, and sometimes difficult, person: not a pull-string talking doll that goes around only saying nice, trite things.

It’s still not always completely natural to me, to give that weight. But it has gotten easier to swing that way.

They had their backs to a cemetery and their eyes on a sunset.

It was a surprise to the couple how human it felt, watching the van go. There were no eyelids to fold or last words to remember, but there was the pitiful way the van’s nose crinkled, and how small it appeared, hitched to the tow truck–this thing that, once their hearty vessel, now shuddered away as cargo.

They tracked the procession into the end of the day, fading out as participants and settling in as bystanders of their own debris, while off in the corner, a police car sat flashing, attending to its charge as the right-lane blockade, executing its duty with all the vigorous passivity that required. It sat there, shrill and silent, as traffic nudged on single-file, transferring brake lights one by one until each fell still, and from end to end stretched a solid red vein. Then, somewhere down the road a light turned green, and the lane dissolved into cars again.

At some point before the sun faded, and long after the van had spirited away, the couple still sat with their backs to the cemetery gates, feeling the breeze of passing traffic and watching the lights change.

We’ve waited this long, they thought, while somewhere, a taxi counted down the minutes to arrival on its GPS. They supposed they would always wait.