“Indian summer” are some hateful-ass words. I know I have nothing to complain about, having to moved to the Bay from a town where it was 112 in the shade the day we left, but this sudden spike in temperature has this flower wilting. Everybody came to school half naked and looking like summer was back for a visit, but by 2 o’clock, everybody had run to red faces and frizz and looked ready to visit the morgue to get some cool air.
Imagine, if you will, the arc of an afternoon. It starts low.
I got up late, woke to blazing sunshine and that white rabbit feeling of I’M LATE I’M LATE OHGODOHGODNOTIME. I should have listened to that rabbit. I made my way leisurely through my morning tasks, showered and packed my lunch, tried to help John strategize about the GRE. We ran out the door with moments to spare, having barely gathered our effects and clipper cards. He caught his bus miraculously, as it, too, had been running late. I caught the train.
The arc picks up.
My commute into Berkeley is beautiful. I watch the scenery change and I can see the city, out to the west of Oakland. I met polite people on the train. I arrived and palled around at the Caliber table. The heat of the day was not peaking yet, but it was on its way there. There was no shade. I was unfazed, fresh for the day, ready to go. I made the mini-hike up to Evans to get to class.
The top of the world soon comes into view. The arc reaches its peak and we hang weightless, with a spectacular view, for a timeless time.
Discussion section for my Religion 90A class is almost always great. We talked Hildegard von Bingen and nobody got all dogmatic with me. A girl from Hong Kong talked about Hildegard’s musical compositions and how unusual they were for the high middle ages; how they were vivid and varied and unlike plain chanting. The girl speaking was a pianist and composer, and she broke through her shyness and exposed her genuine passion. Our discussion of gender faded in the face of what she had to offer. It was a singular moment. Competition evaporated. The GSI was blown away. I was fascinated like a child.
The moment passed. The heat kept climbing. The arc had begun to curve down, slightly, almost imperceptibly.
I called a friend and we had a long talk over lunch. I climbed the rest of the way up to Cory, into an enormous and already stuffy lecture hall. My brilliant Swiss professor began to speak. He’s a smart man and great in his field, but his lecture style is without agenda, often without aim. He uses no visual aides and speaks evenly, tangentially, politely. Shoulders slumped and feet went up. Heads dipped and laptops fell asleep. It was inevitable. Somewhere between the via purgativa and the via contemplativa, I fell asleep.
There is that hanging moment when we can see our descent, when we know the drop is coming, but it hasn’t come yet.
Maybe ten minutes.
I awoke with a start that rattled my bones and knocked my sunglasses off my head. Nobody noticed, however, because the very tall, very muscular athletic fellow in front of me had jumped out if his chair, screaming. His iPhone and car keys slid out of his basketball shorts and hit the floor as he leapt. Clenching his teeth, he hopped and bounced his way out of the hall on one foot, using the banisters like crutches.
As awake as I had ever been in my life, I tried to pay solemn attention to the instructor and make it through the last 40 minutes of class.
The day is sliding down and down. I can’t wait for the sun to go with it.
I’m gonna go get some froyo.