The first in the sense of arriving, of trading one home for another, of holding the first in your hand always and the second like a light. There is tenuous hope and homemaking. Whole small parks appear in your living room complete with turf and there are big, lively dinners and sometimes you walk upstairs to forty people on your couches talking about divestment. Everything is different. Yet the same cross is lit on the same hill and the same streets rumble with the same construction and the same spotlight sweeps the city as it makes its familiar rounds during the night.
The second in the sense of the Whitman collection and of (parts of) organisms, of leaving scraps of poems in your lab notebook, of reading your microbiology textbook side-by-side with Freire. Of majors and minors and making useful knowledge and community organizing and speaking with, not for. Settling into an intersection of studies that feels worthy, that falls in a scale between a microscope and a neighbourhood.
The third in the sense of turning them over. Of a better conception of friendship and a deeper gratitude for family. The weight of an entire year dissolves. There is tenderness. An enduring peace. A pull to catalogue instances of care, an inquiry into grace. (It is easy to talk about tenderness but not how it follows a wound.) You go for walks and the birds implore you to go light, to go wisely, to go slow.
The fourth in the sense of the ones that are burning up on their stems as we speak, of wanting to walk all the way up to the florist on the 6000-block who hangs her flowers in birdcages and bring home a bouquet to sit on the windowsill, of wanting right this instant as the cars zoom by in the dark to go back and get that picture of quiet fall, of trees wading in fog, that you missed this morning en route to class. Last November you looked up and autumn had come and gone and taken with it the colours — not this year.