It’s just past 4 p.m., and I, most blessed of women, am reclined beneath quilt, reading Orlando. He frolics about Elizabethan England, writing poetry and serving the Queen and staring curiously at peasants frozen in the cold (which, Woolf tells us, we don’t have anymore). And I listen to the sound of Grace’s mother arriving downstairs: “Here’s the living room, here’s the table, which is actually worth a lot of money (we have to be careful with it). Here’s the kitchen, which was clean yesterday. Here’s my room. The clothes on the floor are clean; I don’t have drawers, so I have to keep them there.” Her mother replies that it’s okay, it’s okay, she’s not here to judge our quality of life. There’s a ring around the bathtub and the floors grit a little underfoot, but she won’t say anything, because we’re in college, and because all she wants is to take her overworked daughter out to dinner.
I, dutifully, line up my tasks: annotated bibliography, Orlando, Urania, Lexicon, OED worksheet, MLA worksheet, Teach for America application. I’ve accidentally left my Christmas lights on all night and all day, and slowly they are winking from blue to white. Like dying stars, I don’t realize until it has already happened, and then I run my eyes up and down the string, counting the changes. Seven whites so far, four light blues. The rest shine steadfastly on, lighting the corner while I read Orlando.