The day begins as most do, only earlier. For some reason, you feel compelled to get out of bed around 6:15-ish so that you can make it to the gym by 6:30-ish. Oh, that's right. It's all part of the go to bed earlier, get up earlier plan that will result in being able to get up in time to be at the pool at 6 a.m. on the day before Thanksgiving. Like all plans, it begins a day early.
Even after swimming, there are things to do: papers to grade, crossword puzzles to complete, folders to lose and then find again, writing center hours.
Also: a friend from high school (high school!) to pick up at the airport with her significant other. Unlike many high school friends, she is crazy in a way that is familiar and comfortable. She is crazy in the same way you are crazy. The things you had in common then, you still have in common. You can talk about creativity and art and food. She took the photographs of your wedding. You take her and Man to a brew pub for lunch. You drink beer. You take her to one of the cool places in town for tea. She photographs everything in sight, including you doing a Serious Author face and the bookcases which are organized by color (red, green, etc). She finds a yellow one that says "Revolt" and places it in among the red. She is able to see things that are invisible to others. But you see the monkey holding two candles lamp. It seems important.
Picking up Son from school is different with Friend. You see the chaos for what it is: an intricately choreographed dance of attraction and avoidance, of deferral and intersection. The direction and energy of the children is inversely proportional to the direction and energy of the adults. You can see this now. You worry about the parents who worry too much. You want Son to move like a dervish through this hallway, to move out into the world without damage or care. Instead, he finds a turkey made from a pine cone on the playground. It is a treasure. You make him return it, imagining the child who misplaced it, distraught and unanchored, turkeyless.
There is more: the dog who jumps on all visiting strangers, the phone calls with directions, visits to the neighborhood bakery which is only open this one day because it is the day before the day before.
And then: good-bye to Friend and Man, the gift of a pumpkin, the roasting of pumpkins, eating of leftover chili, watching of wizard movies, the staying up too late, the inevitable fit, the sudden drop into noiseless sleep, instant and complete.
There is more to do, accomplish. The making of soup, the making of pie, the purchase of the turkey.
But first you must sleep. Tomorrow is the day the plan begins, and you must get up in seven hours, regardless of when you go to sleep. So sleep now.
Tomorrow is the day before.