There’s a layer of dust on my notebook.
There’s a layer of dust on most everything: the phone, the water glass, the coffee mug.
Someone’s piled old newspapers on my desk; an entire month of the calendar is blank.
My first morning back they give me the police shift. It’s raining and cold and dark when I come in but it’s warm under the fluorescent lights and I hear the familiar chatter from the scanner, read the familiar stilted cadence in police reports.
It’s late October and the underage drinking list is long. It always is.
A co-worker is writing the obligatory weather story so my work is mindless, just re-writing the reports in a way that makes sense. And that’s good. It’s hard to wrap my mind around these changes. It’s a sense of unreality; the last time I sat in this chair I was nine months pregnant, wondering who she was and what she’d look like.
Now I’m back in this chair, and this time I know.
When deadline’s slipped by I shake the dust from my notebook, start the process of catching up. There are sources to call and stories to set up and I need another cup of coffee to help me focus.
But buried under the dust and the old papers is a note from a woman thanking me for a story I wrote about her husband, back before I went on leave. I have to run his name through our archives to remember; the story feels like a lifetime ago.
“I want to thank you for the article you wrote about Bill. I was pleased with it,” she writes in an even, sloping cursive on the thin cardstock. Every letter sits perfectly on the line.
“By now you should have your baby girl, enjoy every minute because they grow up so fast.”
And so it begins, this tension so perfectly written across that page:
To enjoy every fleeting minute; and to keep writing the stories that have to be told.
And so I put blue ink on the dusty notebook and set her picture as my desktop background and we start to feel our way through this new normal.