Sometimes the light filters through the plate glass windows at Target in a way that feels like church. When the sun dips below the strip mall horizon, it washes the self-checkout lanes and the mannequins in women’s apparel in a honey-red radiance, and for a moment, we pause our carts, and there’s a hush that says be still and silent and know that I am God

But really, what is the point of me? Everyone else on the internet seems to have a schtick, a claim to some kind of expertise. Meanwhile, my head is gunked up with fragments that point in all directions. There’s half of a zen aphorism about a fingernail pointing to the moon, but I can’t remember why this is supposed to be profound, although I swear I read somewhere that your uncoiled intestines can reach the moon.

Last night, we watched tornados threaten our neighborhood on the news while sirens rang from all corners of the county. We cheered when they zoomed into our street. They told us to wake our neighbors and take shelter, but we remained glued to the TV as a psychedelic throb of purple passed over a map of where we lived. The weather people said they’d never seen anything like it. When the blob reached the Target a mile away, we went to bed.

And what of silence? Lately I’ve been concentrating on the sliver of quiet between each passing car on Route 33 outside my window. Although I’m still reckoning with panic attacks on the highway, the thrum of nighttime traffic lulls me—perhaps an echo of growing up in apartments along Interstate 75 on the edge of Detroit. Some people are afraid of silence. They cannot tolerate it. I’m learning to savor it. 

Except when I fall asleep. I need to hear someone mumbling about the past. Fall of Civilizations is my favorite thing for this, and it feels timely these days. Last night I learned that, five thousand years ago, the Sumerians gave us sixty minutes in an hour because they counted the three joints on four fingers five times and believed this was a sacred number.