There’s few folks at the high school on a rainy late afternoon I appear. The November rain is soot-gray and cold as river stones. I haven’t been to a teacher conference in years now.
For a moment, I step into my life, six years ago, when my oldest daughter was in this same exact classroom, with this same teacher. He’s a parent now. I’m divorced, and I’ve published another book.
The majority of my daughter’s and her peers’ high school years have now been immersed in the pandemic. Her teacher reiterates, These kids are resilient.
I walk back out in an early twilight, removing my mask and breathing in the wet air. This is the strange, otherworldly time of year — twilight at four. There’s plenty of waking hours yet ahead of me — those games of Uno my daughter and I will play while she shares seagull-sized snippets of her day. We’ll cook bacon and eggs for dinner. In the dark, I’ll leave her to her homework, and I’ll drive to another town for a Development Review Board hearing. That night, I know it will be myself, alone, in that three-story former schoolhouse, fulfilling the state’s in-person requirement, while everyone else is in their living room. I know the meeting will be civil and pleasant and full of the open kindness I expect from these people. When we’re finished, I’ll fold up my laptop and stand for a moment outside again, beneath the door’s overhang, the rain pouring down, sparkling in that single outdoor light, small bits in the unbreakable darkness.
My own resilience is like a river stone, a worn-down, solid thing. Rain, darkness, the breeze from the lake hidden in the cedars. Kids, I think, kids. I carry that word kids home in my heart.
Postcard I received in the mail yesterday from Vermont Almanac — a second collection of Vermont writers due out shortly. How great is that?