It’s nearly 3 am on a Friday night—still Friday since I haven’t gone to sleep yet—which is late enough for the dark to feel its darkest and the space to feel its emptiest. Once again I’m in a bubble, separate from a world that, for all I can tell, may or may not be out there somewhere in the night. It’s weird sometimes to think that the opposite is happening on the other side of the planet. That the sun is up and people are out of their bubbles moving about and doing whatever it is that awake people do. Though I’m awake, and people in the awake sun-up world may or may not be doing what I’m doing in this nighttime world.
Makes me wonder how many people are out there typing words alone in the dark. Makes me wonder how many people are out there typing these exact words. What the chances? Less than one in few billion? Could be happening, if so.
My coworker had to go home to China for a family emergency. He’s on the awake side of the world, mourning. I mourn for him. He’s my friend and I love him, and my heart hurts for him.
I’ve taken on his workload. No one asked me to, but I feel like it’s the only thing I can do for him, though taking charge of his classes makes no difference to him nor does it make much of a difference to anyone else. I feel there is nothing else to do but cry in my macaroni and cheese, and that did even less but season and hydrate last night’s dinner.
It didn’t occur to me until after I got home and the hurricane subsided that I just did it, just told the powers that be that I was doing it. Hmm. No, I didn’t even tell them. I just told the front desk lady to reassign the subs for the rest of the year. And there it was. There they were, packed in my room like sardines, all mixed up with mine. I’m in charge of grading his papers and putting those grades in the computer anyway. Might as well take the people in. And I don’t care what the boss says. Let him take the kids out if he wants to, but I doubt he will. Subs rarely teach, and not many know the math well enough to help the students. At least I’ll be in the room to answer questions. And the kids didn’t complain today. They didn’t mind the change-up. Made their day more interesting and got me moving again. I needed it. Maybe they did, too.
We all miss him, and he’s been gone only two days. I guess it’s the fact that he’s all the way over there on the other side that makes his absence felt so greatly. He might as well be on Mars.
Zai jian, friend.
So that was my day.
And now I’m here claiming this little space of Earth’s surface. Borrowing it. Filling it with me. Wondering, again, who or what ever filled it in the history of the world. What happened here. What these walls have seen.
I visited the missions in San Antonio a few times. One in particular fills me with awe. Each time I stepped inside that beautifully kept historical structure, a church still in use, I was the only person there. I was the only person within the walls of a centuries old church. And I wondered then, too, what those walls had seen in all its age. The experience was, each time, indescribably sacred.
Maybe the space I’m taking up now is, too, and I don’t even know it.
And maybe someday someone will take up this same space and wonder about its history, with me encased in the memory, not recognized but part of the moment nonetheless.
It’s been a long day, and I didn’t talk about it with anyone. So I’m rambling here to a white screen that maybe someone in the world will read. Which still blows my mind—that another human could read my thoughts on a screen anywhere in the world. I am literally talking to everyone on the planet who has access to the internet. In past tense. I will have already written this by the time you read it. But to me, now, you haven’t read it yet.
Ni Hao, World.
And I’d say goodnight, but my friend hasn’t taught me how yet. Though it is 3 am, so
Zao shang hao.