The kind of story that Judith Teitelman was inspired to write, throughout those 18 years, is the kind of story that readers crave in the face of a resurgence of fascist and isolationist policies. Readers connect through story and, when that seems impossible, retreat into story: in this sense, narratives are survival tools for storytellers and audiences. Narratives which create a space for courage and resistance are vital and essential. And Esther’s insistence on being her whole and true self — “I must be who I am and only that” — is invigorating. A few more thorough edits over those 18 years would have clarified her story, but it’s still a story worth telling.
She spent months wrestling with those emotions, until she realized that they had pinned her in place. Time was marching on and she wasn’t moving at all. Her choice was clear: She could surrender to the darkness, or she could dance.
That’s what she was doing on a Monday morning a month and a half ago when I stopped by a Manhattan community center for blind people that’s run by Visions, a nonprofit social services agency. Marion, 73, was leading her weekly line-dancing class.
She was teaching about a dozen students the steps to the electric slide and similar favorites. But, really, she was teaching them defiance. She was teaching them delight. She was teaching them not to shut down when life gives you cause to, not to underestimate yourself, not to retreat. She’d briefly done all of that, and it was a waste.
Scrabble is a huge part of my life and my identity. I love the challenge of every rack, the beauty of the words, the rush of competition—one on one, across the board from another human being. But I won’t be playing outside of my living room for a while. I’m cleaning my tiles again. Others are making the same choice; players have begun organizing online tournaments.
During the week, I watched with empathy as the director of that tournament in Ohio wrestled in real time with what to do. “Yes, in theory, I could cancel,” he wrote on Facebook. “However, I promised several people … that I would run the tourney, and so I shall do so.” Another player replied, “Just keep them all spread out. Godspeed.”
we were waiting in the spring
for our bodies to return
waiting in the fall
and waiting in the winter