It’s foggy here this morning. “Jack the Ripper” weather, I always think of it, in part because there’s that sense that anything could be around the corner. I dropped my daughter off at school, the yellow of the school buses and the solid blues and neon oranges of kids’ hoodies seeming to glow a little in the thick, wet air. She was off to her final day of standardized testing – in other words, walking around a corner where she knows just what’s on the other side. Bubble forms and number twos.
She’s a good student, but she doesn’t test well and taking them makes her a bit sick – sick to her stomach, sick with anger, sick with self-doubt. I’ve thought of pulling her from the tests altogether, as right now they only seem to be shooting her in the foot – the scores keeping her out of higher level classes that her grades suggest she can take. I’m not sure if it’s herd mentality or a calculated decision to become comfortable with discomfort, but we’ve decided that she should keep taking them for now.
So she goes and chews spearmint gum, per the guidance counselor’s advice. She tells herself to be curious instead of terrified – even if she’s more the latter. And every day I marvel just a little that the bogey man did not get her – she’s here carving pumpkins and laughing, manhandling her little brother, ordering double chocolate muffins. She’s walked into the fog and though some of it may cling to her, she’s walked through it.
Which is exactly what I hope will happen to my husband who boarded a plane for New York City yesterday afternoon, only to get halfway way there when the news of an Ebola case came blaring through airport televisions, online devices, and word of regular old mouths. He is taking his daughter to the city – the first time she’s been there and only his second. We’ve been excited, making arrangements and finding quirky things for them to do – like a dog Halloween party in Tompkins Square. But now it feels a bit like entering the fog. What is around that subway turnstile? that street in Brooklyn with the bowling alley?
Rationally, I know we are all brushing against unforeseen dangers on a daily basis and this one possesses a tiny iota of risk to two weekend tourists. I’m amazed by how many bikers wearing headphones and simultaneously texting I’ve come close to hitting with my car, only to have them be absolutely clueless that they were even in harm’s way. And as with Bella and the standardized tests, we willingly do things all of the time that we know may not be the best for our higher Self; I am still feeling the effects of the sugar from the ill-chosen oatmeal with maple syrup/orange juice combo I put in my body this morning, for instance.
A needle in a haystack is how the Ebola virus in the US currently feels. The scary part is that we all know there will be more needles and more precautions to safeguard against them. In the meantime, we walk into the fog – board the plane, take the subway, kiss our loved ones goodbye with the absolute intention that they’ll reappear at the end of the day or return after the trip. We maintain faith that while the fog might cling a bit and even dampen us, it won’t kill us.