The blog entry I planned to write today was about my lost earring, the silver flying pig earring that disappeared while we were in Pennsylvania for Thanksgiving.
I’ve had those earrings since my pig-collecting adolescence (inaugurated by my star-studded turn as Wilbur in Charlotte’s Web the Musical). I consider them lucky, mostly because I’ve held onto them so long. Also, flying pig earrings go with pretty much everything. When I wear them to school, students want to touch them. I wore them the day David proposed.
We looked carefully for the missing earring before we left Pennsylvania. I felt sad to lose it. Still, I hung the solo pig in its place when I got home. You never know, I thought.
And today, while fishing in my backpack for an IPod cord, I found it! Exultation!
The blog entry would have led to some moderately saccharine sentiment: Sometimes what we’re looking for has been nearby all along, or Savor life’s smallest triumphs, or We find precious things when we least expect to. (Okay, hopefully I would have come up with something better than any of those.)
But before I sat down to write a friend texted me, Vigil for the folks in CT on Beverly Common at 6:30. Will you be there?
So I googled Connecticut, and learned about 27 people being killed in a sweet, safe little school, and suddenly my reunited earrings were the furthest thing from my mind.
There are other blog entries I’ve been meaning to write. An entry about the day two weeks ago when an Apple store employee gave me a new battery for my laptop. A $129 battery for free! And it couldn’t have happened at a better moment. I’d just come from the chiropractor and I could barely walk without wincing; I was on my way to the dentist for a couple of fillings. I was in pain and anticipating more pain and worried that my laptop would need to be replaced. Instead the guy at the Genius Bar came back from the storeroom with a new battery for my aging MacBook and said, “Merry Christmas. It’s on us.” Ever since, when my hips are hurting or I’m feeling stressed about school stuff, I say to David, “Remember that time when they gave me a new battery for my laptop?” It seemed like some sort of cosmic sign that life would be okay, that at some point my usual zest would return, and when it happened I’d understand afresh that life and energy (my metaphoric battery, if you will) are gifts.
Then again, I thought I might snap pictures of the beautiful bouquet they gave me at the Winter Concert last night. I might have written about my intention to examine it and inhale its fragrance again and again in the days to come, because this time of year is crazy, and God knows we all need to just stop and enjoy the beauty.
But now there are all those children and parents and grandparents and friends and neighbors in a small town in Connecticut whose lives will forever be ripped into two pieces: Before and After.
And so I cry and think of the last music class I taught today. The second grade boys who couldn’t seem to stop rolling across the carpet like puppies. The quiet, shaggy-haired child who crouched in the corner and sucked on his sleeve while the rest of the class stood for the movement activity. The first grade girl who mewled like a wounded cat when any of the boys got too close. It doesn’t matter how many years a person teaches: there are days when you’re swimming against the current. I tried every gentle-yet-firm trick in my arsenal, and still I ended the week feeling like a desperate hack.
Such a lucky hack: grappling for control of holiday-giddy seven-year-olds on a Friday afternoon. Not fumbling to close the door as bullets fly through the hall. Not gasping for life, just for a fleeting sense of authority.
So we went to the vigil and stood in a circle with strangers. A two-year-old examined her father’s candle and local reporters whispered politely, wanting names to correspond with the pictures. We walked past the ocean on our way home, admiring the neighborhood Christmas lights.
I live in a world where lost earrings turn up. I live in a world where children can be killed in their classrooms. I live in a world where an Apple store employee might give you a free battery. I live in a world where death is always a possibility.
Sometimes I feel there is not enough space in me for these realities. I try to push away the frightening ones with a thousand useless mind games. I compartmentalize. I judge. I tell myself that certain things won’t happen to me or to anyone I love. But sometimes I drop my defenses and let the ache in. Sometimes I weep at my computer and let my weeping be a prayer. Then I head downtown with a candle in my hand.