When it happened

When it happened in 2008, there were somewhere between forty and eighty of us in the house—sixtyish residents and a grab-bag of hangers-on like me, as usual. We all ran into the street and down the hill. Our flood mixed with the flood of others from all the other big houses. We clustered together down Ridge and Euclid and through North Gate and down to Telegraph. One guy with a bowl cut took all his clothes off in glee. (I recognized him. He did that a lot.) We cried that night in each other’s arms, I’ll never forget it.

When it happened in 2012, I was in the living room of my friend’s house. We were watching CNN quietly while we did schoolwork on our laptops. We yawned and then I walked home in the cold.

When it happened in 2016, I opened another bottle of wine, as though that was going to help, and there were people on FaceTime but I didn’t want to talk, and I woke up the next morning with a momentary sigh of gratitude that it was all a nasty dream. Then reality, and the hangover, reared up.

When it happened in 2020, it took a while. For the first bit I was so tense that I created a cave of comforts, ice cream and an apple candle and a hot water bottle wearing its very own tiny sweater, and I watched a costume drama while my stomach ached. But then it became a slow math problem. It became obvious what was going to happen.

And what happened? It was far less good of news than it ought to have been, by a mile. But it was not a vindication of the worst of the dread. And after the years we’ve had, after the year we’ve had, a non-vindication of the worst is cause enough for celebration.

How it happened at last is that I opened the door coming in from my run, my head pounding from the heat (all 75 degrees of it; I am very fragile) and Ian cried out to tell me the news, which made sense of all the people I’d heard whooping outside, and we sat down together and smiled and eventually I made an apple pie.

There’s much to do. But today I had pie for breakfast.

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