I count the white, wiry hairs poking from the part in my scalp. There are too many. I give up and measure the length from root to where the color changes. These markers are comforting to me right now. I’ve never been a numbers person, but lately, I cling to what feels measurable.
I stare at graphs, trying to grasp the invisible movement of a global pandemic. I print and cut out guides for measuring my kids’ ever-growing feet. I check the ratio of water to rice in our rice cooker, making sure it comes to a round curve in just the right place close to my flattened knuckles, before closing the lid and pressing start. I number each page of a letter I wrote and count how many sticks of butter we have left in the fridge. I add up how many days it’s been since Breonna Taylor was murdered, and the days since stack up without justice: 154.
My son begs me to check the weather again, asking me exactly how long the on-going summer storm will last. Irritated, I give him the same answer I’ve given him ten times in the last hour, “It looks like it will last for most of the night, but I don’t really know.” I tell him he’s safe, and I feel like a liar. The muscles in his shoulders and forehead stay clamped together at my response. I recognize my own stress in the creases above his brow. I see the stress of a nation and world in his small, light brown shoulders.
I want to know how long things will be the way they are too, but the things I want to measure most are immeasurable.