With the countdown towards 'school Monday' fully in operation, it emerged on Saturday that I am not allowed into the kitchen except under the eagle eye surveillance of Charlie who is keeping watch lest I move his lunchboxes, the veritable sign that there is school tomorrow.
His anticipatory complex at work in full force, Charlie was in angst (Jim's phrase) all day. At the start of each of three bike rides, he paused after every round of pushing the pedals to glance back at me to make sure I wasn't doing anything I oughtn't. (He didn't do this on a walk as he knew he had me trodding at his back.)
As we all waded through the hours, we only felt more grateful at the past week together. Many friends just got power back on Saturday, or saw their lights flicker on and then go off, or are waiting till sometime next week. Though Charlie's school is opening Monday, the schools in our town are not as some remains cold and dark. My own school opens for classes Tuesday though I suspect, many of our students being commuters, there will be empty seats aplenty and a deep lack of focus with the end of the semester fast approaching.
At the grocery store, I sensed a deep and enduring stress in people, lingering extra long in front of the bagel case and scanning the shelves intensely. The clerk was very surprised when I took out some cash and didn't object to the big bill he said was all he had.
Money's money! I wanted to say.
In the afternoon, Jim sawed the big branch that fell beside our backyard shed into pieces. The neighbors have been gathering up leaves and branches and chain sawing away all week. All of our energies have been directed in one direction, to getting Charlie peaceably through each day; on what's essential.
Yawning in his brown chair, Charlie stayed up till I had finished a bowl of rice and vegetables for dinner. He stood behind me as I did the dishes and it occurred to me, he'd kept his vigil because he knew that I had to go back to the kitchen to wash the bowl and utensils, and he had to make sure about the lunchboxes.
He's thinking ahead.