Recently, I picked up a nickel for a man who dropped it, walked it over to him in the store. He looked at me surprised. Both of us chuckling at the small gesture, made big by its very smallness.
I eat a salad at that café and think about how the familiar faces I have known—but not the faces I have known known, just the ones in my life there, in the bakery, at the store, the ones I see every six months or so—have aged. And how some of them still have not. Right now, I can see across the street, in front of the Peet’s, three of the same men, still stand, still scope the crowd, still. People can become a constancy in the environment.
I cannot decide if this is a sad thought or a happy one.
After the nickel incident, I ran after a woman who left her sunglasses on a bench, after she and her man finished their ice cream.
A friend recently considered the state of her (and our) life, saying something like, “Is this it? Now I live near a bunch of knick-knack shops but am gentrifying part of a city and doing a mixed job at a foundation?” (This is a poor paraphrase.) Sometimes I think about where I may be headed– academia, writing, etc– what Huey Newton probably called being an armchair philosopher. But who were we to think we could make a difference? Who are we to think we cannot? What is the size of something called “a difference?”
The idea of working through constant failure becomes an increasingly important one.
My parents keep saying, “Work on yourself. Work on yourself first.” Is there an order?
I briefly imagine myself at 50, 60. I am kind. I am generous, the trait I admire most especially if they survive in academics. But also I do not care. The kind of “don’t care” that strong, older women achieve, so people think they are losing it, but really, they know so much and they see you. They know you think they are losing it, and they do not care because they have work to do.
I wonder how much I will cry in bed then.
I want to remember I am good and—though the previous statement can stand on its own—I want to remember I am good at what I do.
Lying in bed, I recall moments of success in my work, silly little things that suggest I have done good in the places I have been. I spent most of this past semester believing my class wasn’t going great because of—really—just one student’s hard exterior. But in reality, this group of students performed the most consistently and creatively out of possibly all my classes I’ve taught in this setting. Their final portfolios and last notes and emails to me reinforce this idea and the effect of my work. But it’s so easy to forget when you are sensitive, and you want to get better and know you can get better. But don’t forget. Don’t ignore the ones saying stay, keeping doing what you are doing.
Don’t let imagined things be the reason for your choices.
Who will remember my forgotten glasses? My dropped coin? Who will pick up after me? Run after me?
Sometimes what you avoid comes back, dragging you into truth’s tide. The question remains what good will you do there and how.
There are signs that things are working. More and more, I feel I am heading in the right direction. I want to work on believing this.