After lunch we emerge from the sukkah to find that the day has brightened, the trees sketching flame onto mild blue skies.
In the main room of their apartment the light will be on all day and all night. The walls are pale and bright, and after the food is cleared away games are laid out on the table. Desserts make the rounds, and I get into an intense conversation that lasts until the early morning hours.
It's a quiet street for the most part, but then a car will cut through the dark with its headlights, or a bike will whirr by, and down the block I'll hear one half of a cellphone conversation. Everyone moves with a destination in mind; there are no meanderers just taking in the trees and the muted street lamps. I wonder where they're going. One woman swings a grocery bag between limp fingers and lets herself into a house. She disappears, and the door clicks shut behind her.
Our conversation is a series of cloud patterns: dense and concentrated sometimes, at other times gapping or thinning, spilling sunlight.
A squirrel steals into the sukkah, where an unattended backpack calls to it. Maybe there's food inside, a sandwich half-eaten or a cookie from the cafeteria. The squirrel worries the zipper on one of the smaller pockets before climbing on top of the backpack and nuzzling against the folds and straps.
My first glimpse of the holiday evening festivities: people bobbing up and down before a lighted window. As I come closer to the building, I hear a faint roar of singing and stomping.
Three women are at the center of the dancing circle. Two are holding Torah scrolls, and one is holding a young child. The child has stuck her thumb in her mouth and is staring wide-eyed at the women whirling around her.