Day 1003, March 13, 2023

A little more than a thousand days…

I have been thinking about how memories do not become stories until you write them down, or perhaps recite them over dinner and a drink, or sing them in song. Until then, they are just temporal wisps of existence, like the day before yesterday, or the meal you shared ten years ago at the restaurant where you still always order the same thing.The peanut noodle salad sprinkled liberally with scallions and undercooked broccoli. It would be just a meal if not for the retelling and revisiting. 

I missed the 1000th day, choosing instead to celebrate the birth of two of my children (twins), and then after over filling myself with bulgogi, pajun, and bibimbap, settled into dozing off in front of the television. 

I remember becoming a father like those stories you read about where mothers pick up small cars to save children pinned underneath (there is nothing written about what kind of negligence caused a child to be pinned under a small automobile). The kids and my former spouse probably don’t remember it that way, but I felt somehow more than human, that I could perform anything that was needed. I had the strength and stamina to alternate babies in either arm, to nurse a mother recovering from a caesarian, to quickly learn how to swaddle and soothe a crying baby, all on just a few hours of sleep. 

We didn’t leave the hospital for several days, and it was a little frightening to imagine what life would be like on our own, but we did it. Spring had arrived when we left the hospital, it has been snowing when we last stepped outside. The first bee of the season got trapped in the back window of the car, and despite my earnest attempts at practice with a sack of potatoes, it was much harder to buckle in two screaming and squirming children. I drove so slowly over the Calvin Coolidge Bridge that cars were honking at me, but it was unfathomable to move any faster. Everything had slowed to the speed to where I could focus and see every shape, every shadow. There was no blurring of landscapes, it was all present.

In those early days, I could have lifted up a Volkswagen Beetle by the bumper. I could have muscled my way through a zombie apocalypse. I could have battled off a horde of stormtroopers. 

A thousand days is a long time. I fear I do not have the stamina I had as a young dad. A few people mentioned how today marks the anniversary of the campus closing where I worked, when everyone was sent home. I trust other people’s judgement. Maybe I am 95 days off, but I did work in the office for a time after everyone else went home, I don’t remember how long, though. I do remember the last conference I went to, the Racial Equity and Justice Institute down at Roger Williams University in Rhode Island. I had a marvelous lobster roll for dinner the night before. At the conference we talked about what we had heard about the medical conference in Boston and for the first time people shared hand sanitizer at the checkin table, I eschewed such things and perfumed silliness, and many of us bumped elbows instead of shaking hands. 

I thought perhaps I would end this blog after a thousand days. The way that Zoom stopped feeling novel and just became exhausting, how we ran out of things to say. Perhaps now is the time to start going back and seeing what I have written… if there is anything worth saving.

But, I’ve enjoyed this space. It has given my life structure in a mostly formless time. So perhaps I will return. Or maybe I’ll alternate between this and something else. For now, this project has been about transforming memories into stories, accurate or inaccurate, truths and untruths, and mostly leaving out the things that scare me or seem too lascivious to share with the general public. Those, I’ll keep for fiction. Thank you for reading and staying with me, off and on all these days. I hope that you are all finding some solace and peace somewhere. A thousand days is momentous, a three year anniversary is momentous. A thousand and three days is somewhat banal. Perhaps life is like that, all those things rolled into one. 

Stay healthy, and be well.

From the MFA’s show 
Hear Me Now: The Black Potters of Old Edgefield, South Carolina


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