It’s the Hebrew month of Kislev. A month of miracles, the month of Chanukah. Also my birthday month, and Young J’s. So here are the minor miracles I count today. I got a haircut, one I was scheduled to have had three weeks ago. My hair, which I keep short, had nearly attained post-menopausal elderly lady style status so I was extra grateful to regain some youth. As I arrived, a friend was just vacating the chair, someone I didn’t know until I saw her yesterday had been dealing with her own week-long ordeal of pain from a wisdom tooth extraction. We swapped stories on what we’d been managing to eat.
Later on, I made my pilgrimage through filthy slush to the library, which I’d been trying to get to since Sunday.
But first, I went to the bagel shop for my first non-home-cooked meal in weeks. I had a sesame bagel with two eggs. Nowhere in the description or my order was the word cheese used, but I think they just knew to add some. My face must have that “I am starved for cheese” look to it. I was planning to eat half and save the rest for later, to make sure it was sitting well. Two bites in to the first half I realized this would not be remotely possible. There was only joy in this eating, no pain, no turmoil.
Still, I was in the grip of a mood swing that had begun while I was getting my haircut. I’d told my ordeal of the past weeks to my stylist (by way of explaining how my hair had come to look such a hot mess). I told it in my new way, wide-eyed, expressive but nearly expressionless, not even close to tears. But I’d finished talking about that, and was casting about for something else to say, and I told her about the marchers that filed past our building last night, a strong but hushed protest through the streets at 11 pm, a group perhaps 1500 strong (I wanted to believe it was that large). And that did it, I was crying, tears creeping down the cape. It took me a second to stop. “Mood swing, sorry,” I said, blaming the steroids.
After my two bites of bagel, a familiar voice greeted me. It was Rashad (not his real name), the super/caretaker/jack-of-all-trades at the former industrial mixed-use building where I take gym classes. It’s been three weeks since I was last there. His typical greeting is so effusive you practically need earplugs, and when I showed up over the summer, having radically chopped my hair short, his reaction was bar none the best one I’d heard (“SUGAR! HONEY! ICED! TEA!”).
Today, Rashad seemed to be on mute – something was not right. I told him a bit about what had been up with me. I asked him how he was. He didn’t want to say right away, but finally told me his dad just died. (Note: I have since learned it was his grandfather, who was like a dad to him.) I gave him a hug. He talked about how he couldn’t believe he was gone, it was sudden, he’d just come back to Brooklyn.
And it turned out it had been a robbery – his (grand)father had been counting his money and gotten jumped by some thugs. Went into a coma and never came out.
I gave him so many more hugs. What do you say? I didn’t know what to say, so I said that. I said I was angry to hear how it happened. I said that’s not how things are supposed to go. That it wasn’t fair. It’s not fair, he agreed.
I asked him if he writes. He brightened, slightly, and he said he did, he writes poems and songs. I told him that’s what has been getting me through, writing. I told him to please keep writing, all the way through. He said he would. There wasn’t much else to say.
There isn’t much else to say, except it feels like the world is cracking open from the core, and we are in need of a lot more miracles.