The week before we leave

It’s the week before we leave Cleveland. The house already has big empty spaces.

On Thursday: The students applauded at the end of my class on gender. The last class I’ll teach at a university.

On Friday: Claude ran away from me far down the block. Was he scared of the move? Of the passage of time? Afterwards I was a mess all day, scared he had run so far from me so fast, too sad to do much of anything.

On Monday: The sky is the darkest, most pitiless shade of black you could ever find, and it feels like time has stopped, but a sudden dawn lurks just over the horizon. I’ll miss this. I’ll miss the libraries where I wrote, the staff at the Goodwill where I bought all my new outfits, the Polish lady working at the fish counter who we always chatted with.

On Tuesday: I sold five boxes of my academic books for $60; does that come out to 60¢ a book? They’re all but worthless.

Some days nothing can be written, as I’m at the limits of exhaustion and haste, with bouts of suppressed panic, long moments of confinement and boredom. Is this the present, the past, the future tense?

On Thursday: The moving truck comes early in the morning and parks outside, before we’re even all dressed. Claude had a fit about putting on his shirt, Talia took him to school, I tried to set aside the things not being packed. The packing crew came a few minutes past 9. It’s expensive to pay people to box up the house, but we’re overwhelmed and have no family here and need help. There are five men on the crew, and I’m carrying around the baby and showing them what to do. Don’t touch our toolbox yet. Don’t pack the tin foil. They bring in their boxes, lay down their mats, and four hours later everything is in a box; it’s both slow and swift. Faye takes a nap in her car seat while I drive the car in ragged loops. When the packers finish up and leave at 2, there is an unearthly silence and the house is a thicket of boxes. That night at the rented house where we stayed nearby (since our house had become uninhabitable), bedtime was very hard. Days later, I’m still so tired.

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