It’s hard to tell when life is changing. Time slips by unpretentiously, humbler than Christ himself, leaving me fumbling with my mat as I try to get up and walk. By the time I’ve got it under my arm and I’m ready to leave the pool, it’s disappeared into the crowd—and the crowd has disappeared, too. It’s just me and the cool breeze and the black sky.
I’m not complaining, mind you, about the breeze and the unreadable night. But sometimes it’s nice to have a little more warning. Sometimes it feels good to hear the clock ringing the hours or see the sun shifting degree by degree from horizon to horizon. That’s why I appreciate the birthdays and the benchmarks—the lines on the wall denoting my infinitesimal growth spurts. They’re good for the filing system.
All-State Orchestra with strep throat.
My sister’s wedding.
Les Miserables in London.
A flight to Korea.
But more often the real growth spurts happen in those shifting times—during the breeze and the black—and only a shiver of the chord connecting your heart and memory tells you something’s changed. The shivers are clues, so tiny I usually miss them—so random I sometimes mistake them for a trick of my emotions (is it that time of month again?). But I’m getting better at catching them these days: when a student prays for our class in Arabic; when my students cover their teeth to giggle at my jokes; when two of my grown male students hold hands as they walk down the hall beside me.
So what’s changed? Not much. It’s a little colder in the mornings. Most of my students remember my name and aren’t afraid to use it. Minhee smiles at me sometimes. When I fumble (with words, with my keys, with my mat as I leave the pool)—even as the leaves change color and the night comes a little faster - I don't stumble.