That Revelations Feeling

“This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang but a whimper.” ~T.S. Eliot

I used to believe in the Apocalypse.

I thought it was some fantasmic, spectacularly obscene alternate reality that would somehow intersperse with our own sometime in the distant future, in some Buck Rogers timeline that wouldn’t see me in it at all. So I wasn’t worried. This was back before I had kids, so I wasn’t concerned about them either.

It was a far off dream, not favorable, but so far-fetched it couldn’t happen until there was a world gone awry, until perfect circumstances set it up for success. Not unlike most dreams, it had a basis, a grounding in reality, but it would always go off the rails at some point, and I would wake up drenched in sweat. It would take me a while to recover, but when I looked outside I knew I was safe.

I don’t feel so safe anymore. And the Apocalypse doesn’t feel so far fetched anymore either. It’s not something that might happen to others somewhere down the line. I’m still here. I’m still vibrant. I’m still human enough to recognize my fragility in the face of this novel event, in the cresting, crashing, then cresting again wave that is this virus. And I think to myself, will life ever be the same again?

Will I go out again in public sometime and not be worried that it might get me. Will I be in large groups again and not cringe away from others because of this social distancing? Will this be the “new normal,” where I’m wary all the time because no one will be able to tell me I’m okay?

I just don’t know. Which is the scariest part of all. People are saying, “When this thing is over…” but I’m worried it won’t be, not really, that this is just the first of many that will come, that will pillage humanity, that will take its pound of flesh before moving on. I’m worried that I will become such a recluse that I won’t want to open up again, that my wings will be permanently sewn to my back.

I don’t want that. But I’m afraid. That’s it, after all. I’m afraid that once this moves on it won’t have moved on at all, at least not in my soul, not to my fragile self. Maybe that’s the real Apocalypse anyway, the enduring fear of what may come, because of what has been, and what might be again.

I used to believe in the Apocalypse, but now I know that the fear of real life might just be worse.

Waiting to Exhale

The elevator buttons lit up one by one, as if touched by a child’s ghostly index finger, the display sparked like a Christmas tree finally dressed in its finery. Craig and Lindsay stood side by side at the rear of the car. They were headed to the fifth floor for a meeting, but, even though they knew each other, they did not interact. Neither did they react to the sudden illumination, one by one, of the floor numbers.

On four, Allison stepped on without even glancing at the display. She nodded at Craig but completely ignored Lindsay. It was rare for Allison not to speak, though it seemed customary for the other two, but she simply eased herself next to Craig as the doors slid shut once more. She was preoccupied by other things at that moment anyway.

At eight that morning, when she arrived for work, the fountain out front had sometime in the night begun spouting black water. She glanced at the strange color, but it didn’t slow her down. It wasn’t her problem, though she hoped it would be remedied by close of business. Not because she was afraid, of course.

“It’s probably just a prank,” they said around the water cooler on four. Delightful Décor had spread downward two floors from the fifth, which meant five more water coolers, and more chances to hear office gossip. Continue reading “Waiting to Exhale”

Day 14

I jest. But I really don’t. It is Day 14, for what it’s worth. Day 14 since I last saw my students. I didn’t think it would end so soon.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m still going to be having class, once this two-week spring break is done. But once I’m “back” in class it will be in a virtual environment. In fact, that’s what this two-week spring break is all about.

We’re calling it an adjustment period, but I don’t think if any amount of time can be enough to adjust to this new world we are living in, much less to adapt to a new teaching medium.

I teach college students. More specifically, I teach community college students — the ones who largely don’t have the resources they need. The environment of my classroom, and the resources available on our campus, gives them those resources.

And I’m worried. I’m worried that too many will not feel they can succeed in this new world. I’m worried that they won’t take advantage of the resources still available because they feel overwhelmed. I feel overwhelmed thinking about them feeling overwhelmed. I’m not a digital native, but I know that even though most of my students are, it’s in the world of social media, not in taking classes online.

They chose to take classes in person. They chose to show up at a set time every other day, to be present and accounted for, and now they are thrust into something strange and alien to them, for the most part.

I sent out an email earlier this week. It said:

We are in this together.

I meant it. I mean it. We are in this together, even though we are scared, even though this is a seismic shift. We are in this together, even though this isn’t what we chose. This is our world now, and it totally freaks me out too. I told them that. We’ve gotten to this place together because they know they can trust me to be real with them.

I will not stop being real. That’s how we will get through this together. It’s Day 14, three days away from it all beginning again, and I feel like I’ve done all I can to give them the best of me. Let’s hope it’s enough.

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