Tuesday is the day that comes after Monday on calendars and in planners and in the Days of the Week song that I used to sing with preschoolers all over Monroe County during circle time; the natural next step in the progression of the passage of time; the second day in the work week, or, in the words of people who would go anywhere as long as it was somewhere better, four days from Friday, turns to three right around when the lunch break ends and the seconds bleed into minutes, melt into hours that march on, one step at a time, towards tomorrow. Tuesday is something to be expected. Tuesday is taken for granted. Tuesday just always was. Well it was, until it wasn’t, anyway.
Tuesday is the day that I walked into school, but really, I walked through the door to the school, knowing full well that even if I tried to say my mind walked in with me, I wouldn’t have been fooling anybody. Tuesday is the day of the week when I write, “¡Bienvenido a nuestro salón de clase!”, followed by “Hoy es martes” with a day-month-year chaser that all of my students have come to expect, I guess the way that amidst the flow of sunrises and sunsets, I’ve come to expect Tuesday. I’ve come to expect Tuesday, even though if somebody asked me, I know I’d respond straight out of John Asbury’s “Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror,” telling them that “today has that special, lapidary todayness that crawls along blithe sidewalks, that no other day would have been like this,” even though maybe, once upon a time, I used to think every iteration of “today” was just a carbon copy of all the other today’s beneath my favorite star. My mind wanders just like it does on every long-expected Tuesday, dancing with the past, walking arm in arm with the future into the sunset like this long-expected Tuesday is a day of no consequence, even though I know full well that such a day does not exist.
Tuesday is the day that I turned the lights off and lined my kids up and said, “For the love of God, please don’t throw raisins in the library.” The day that I probably planned something else but I definitely had my kids writing recipes for peace instead, watching their minds turn in epicycles on epicycles as they grappled with what they’d even need three tablespoons of if they weren’t actually going to be making something that they could eat. The song of sirens is the ambient noise of every Tuesday and I wonder who’s fallen victim to the things that glitter this time and if they made it out alive to find the only thing that’s really made of gold.
Tuesday is one of those days where everybody says “don’t think that way,” but they know I’m already praying that they’re gonna make it to heaven if they’re not gonna make it home on this side of eternity, because I’ve lived here too long not to feel the way I feel about berry lights. Because I’ve lived here too long to be able to drown out the noise with the headphones some people can just put on and live like there’s nothing going on outside. Tuesday is the day that I can’t, I just can’t leave who I am at the door because my heart is going to walk out these doors and onto the buses and into cars at the end of the day.
Tuesday is the day that comes after Monday, and right now I just can’t believe that the last thing he’ll probably remember me saying was “lose the hood or lose the hoodie”. Not Tupac on my closet doors or Malcolm on the board or Nina in the writing prompt, not Audre in the room next door or Maya rising the way I want my children to believe they can. Tuesday is the day that comes after Monday but there will always be a final Tuesday with which we have the power to leave a handprint on the heart of a child.
Monday is the day that precedes Tuesday, the antecedent to the second day of the work week, but today, all Monday feels like is me trying to make up for lost time a little too late, trying to funnel everything I wish I could have given in person into the speaker, through the telephone line into a home in my city but in a world that I’ve never had to know anything about. Because as hard as it is to raise adult children when you don’t even have your own, I have my dad. I have my dad. And it makes me think a little harder about Tuesday, a little more about the way he must feel, because there’s no such thing as developmentally appropriate practice when your father is caught up in the jaws of the system. No such thing as age-appropriate when you tell your friends the truth, that you struggle with your anger just like your father who’s in prison. Lost to the song of the sirens even though ancient Greece fell a long time ago. Away, away with the wind, just praying that he’ll make it to the side of eternity where you’re planning to go. And I can hear it in a mother’s voice when she picks up the phone. Because this Monday, the day before the long-expected Tuesday, somebody’s father, somebody’s husband, somebody’s son had to go.