Saturday, July 24, 2010

Week in Seven Words #25

All at once the lights wink out, the fan holds its breath, the fridge gives a small sigh and is silent; everything has fallen into a dark hush. Though I can narrow down the location of my flashlight to a certain portion of the room, I can't actually see where it is, and unfortunately the flashlight isn't a glow-in-the-dark model. I wind up using the weak light from my laptop as a flashlight to find the actual flashlight. Once the flashlight is in hand, I divert myself for several moments by making its light race around the walls, before remembering that I am in fact a responsible adult and should venture out and see what's going on in the building.

On the evening of Tisha B'Av - a day marked by mourning, destruction, and exile - we sit on the floor and read the Book of Lamentations. At one point I think to myself that one of the worst things you can wish on someone is the inability to repent of anything and change for the better.

We break the fasting in the second floor library. I slowly put together my bagel, cream cheese, lox, and tomato combo, savoring it, grateful that we have food, that we're all blessed with plenty here and can sit around now chatting. We fasted out of mourning, out of choice, obligation, commitment, and feeling; no dire circumstances threatened us with actual starvation - something not to be taken for granted.

For a moment I'm so moved by his question and the tone in which it's spoken that I can't speak. Then I find my voice again and assure him that I plan to visit soon, in a few weeks - I promise.

I'm not sure at what age skipping becomes an unacceptable way to get from Point A to Point B; I start thinking about this after watching a four year old decide that the best way to go down a long hallway is to skip. And then I wonder if we stop skipping not only because it becomes socially unacceptable, but also because our impulse to skip just shrivels up as we age, so we can no longer do it lightly and spontaneously; it instead becomes self-conscious and self-mocking.

On the computer I prune out short segments of speech - pronouns like 'it' and 'him' - and find out firsthand that in isolation they often sound like an indistinct buzz. They become distinct and recognizable only when they're part of the larger speech stream; otherwise they're like stray droplets that evaporate quickly.

The topography of tiredness. From the start of the dinner to about an hour and a half into it, my energy and alertness slips downhill into a trough. Then a long stretch of good conversation perks me up again, until at midnight I'm at a peak, content and wide awake, and thinking things over rather than sinking comfortably into sleep.