Huddled around my desk, the first years make plans and plots for next year.
I listen; but I am not a member of the conversation.
I offer opinions, but they are those of an outsider, an adviser, someone not in the inner ring anymore.
They listen; but the way you listen to a parent, a teacher, a someone who isn't quite in your shoes and doesn't quite Get It.
Scurrying around the living room, the first years (well now they're really second years), scrub out the cabinets like we never did, and scour surfaces covered in several years of ill will and rodent droppings.
I help, a little, but feel--again--like an observer of a scene happening in front of me that I am not quite present to. My body may be here, in this physical location; but I am not really a member of this moment.
In chronos, I may be present, but the kairos of this moment, the activity of my roommates' all around me is something I am not a part of.
I have more in common with the four future roommates, who are not here. We are both outsiders to this event, while both woven into the circumstances.
But the ghost roommates who are not here have more in common with the four present roommates, who feel their present absence, and work to prepare for their presence.
I am like the old comforters piled up in the linen cabinet; something that will be cleaned out, and be replaced with something new.
I feel useless, like my cleaning hands would be intruders on their preparations for moments I will not be a part of. I feel inessential and unnecessary.
I wonder if this is how mothers feel when their babies learn to walk, or when their child makes their first friend--when another human makes Your Human Project happy in a way only you could before.
Once you were their world, and now they are finding their own world.
I am not a mother.
But I love to nurture, to guide, to create, to write---sometimes so much so I become a controlling, paranoid monster.
And so the endings and the leave-takings, the moments when I am inconsequential are a gift.
A gift to remind us that we are only part of something beautiful.
We contribute our small part, to make something beautiful where once there was a lot of dust and mouse shit.
But it is not ours--we cannot stay--we are only here a short while.
The beauty itself will spiral on, the good that we have added to it compiling and compounding into turrets of great goodness, the work of future generations making up for our sins of omission.
And we will have the peace and joy of knowing that what we lacked was part of the story, and what we gave is still good.