It Would Have Been Enough

This week, and really so much of January so far, has felt a lot like Passover, the Angel of Death passing over us and letting us live. Especially after the January 6 Insurrection, fittingly falling on the Christian feast of Epiphany (manifestation: the three kings recognized Jesus as God) just in time to manifest and show us the worst of our nation’s history, it has been a fraught few weeks. And so on Wednesday when I heard sane, rational people speaking in whole grammatical sentences, I keep feeling that, really, that would have been enough. After the last traumatic four years and four months, when we’ve been repeatedly battered by Tweetstorms, shitstorms, and the nuclear dumpster fire that was 2020, I really wasn’t expecting much or hoping for much.

This brings me to the Jewish Passover song Dayenu, It Would Have Been Enough. There are fifteen stanzas describing all the things God did for the Jews, freeing them from slavery, doing miracles and staying close to them, and at the end of each one, everyone sings, Dayenu.

From Wikipedia:

Five Stanzas of Leaving Slavery

1) If He had brought us out of Egypt.
2) If He had executed justice upon the Egyptians.
3) If He had executed justice upon their gods.
4) If He had slain their first-born.
5) If He had given to us their health and wealth.

Five Stanzas of Miracles

6) If He had split the sea for us.
7) If He had led us through on dry land.
8) If He had drowned our oppressors.
9) If He had provided for our needs in the wilderness for 40 years.
10) If He had fed us manna.

Five Stanzas of Being With God

11) If He had given us Shabbat.
12) If He had led us to Mount Sinai.
13) If He had given us the Torah.
14) If He had brought us into the Land of Israel.
15) If He built the Temple for us.

Dayenu

Dayenu

Dayenu

Dayenu

Dayenu

Dayenu

Dayenu

Dayenu

Dayenu.

No Grading Will Occur Today

I don’t cry.

Twenty years of therapy and I still don’t cry too often, and I can pretty much tell you the day, month and year of the last few times I cried in the last 25 years. Late August 2008. Early December 1993. A few other times.

And then Eleven-Seven/Twenty-Twenty happened.

I am the Eighth Dwarf: Call me Weepy.

Before this, I have lived through a few Major Historical Moments.

I was just short of two years old when American astronauts landed on the moon. My father tried to convince me that it was happening in honor of my birthday, and even at one year and change, I was pretty sure he was putting me on.

On Nine-Eleven, I was arriving at work at MIT and my colleagues were completely freaking out and we went across the hall to the ESL professor’s office, because she had a television, and we watched the playback of the New York attacks and heard the rumors of the attack on the Pentagon. Then we heard about Flight 93, and the passengers who gave their lives to ensure that the hijackers would not do even graver damage, and crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. MIT did not immediately cancel classes, but my boss sent us home. On my way home, I saw an airplane pass behind a skyscraper and held my breath until it came out the other side.

I have never since assumed that airplanes would necessarily pass behind skyscrapers.

On the night of the 2016 election, November 8, I was sitting in one of Boston’s last gay bars, with about twenty or so lesbians in a space big enough for eight or nine (because lesbians, like atoms, can squeeze down to fit into whatever space they are given; it’s science). And we were anticipating that the Woman in the Pantsuitä, Hillary Clinton, would wipe the national floor with DJ Trump’s racist, sexist, homophobic, failed businessman (etc., etc.)’s fat orange ass. And we watched as the TVs around the bar showed the map of the United States turning… redder… and redder… and redder…

And I watched a hundred or more gay folks as their body language got smaller and smaller.

And we realized… that the worst had happened. I saw people weeping in small groups. I saw young lesbians crying and older gay men telling them, “Well, we survived Reagan in the 80s and AIDS. We’ll survive this too.” And I didn’t believe them, because I knew that a lot of people had not in fact survived that, and that a lot of us wouldn’t survive this.

And here we are, four years later, with 235,000 or so Americans dead from Covid-19, in part because of the astonishing lack of leadership and reliance on science from this so-called administration.

I wasn’t wrong, alas.

But then… even though many of us were expecting a Blue Tsunami, repudiating 44.25’s hatred, etc., we waited and waited and waited. We persisted.

And we prevailed.

But I am having trouble processing it. I keep seeing memes and video clips from movies, relabeled with the names of politicians and with “mail-in votes” and I end up weeping. I went grocery shopping in Brookline, MA, which had 5% more votes for Biden/Harris than Boston did, and families with children are standing with signs saying, “Honk4Biden” and cars are honking and I am weeping into my mask.

And I thought I could get started on grading my students’ fourth paper of the semester, but, just, yeah, no.

So here it is. I don’t cry.

And yet.

No grading will occur today on account of how I keep seeing post-election memes and weeping. That is all.