The clock strikes 1 PM on the upper slopes of Mount Everest as my teammates on the Adventure Consultants expedition and I are methodically climbing the Hillary Step by carefully placing our crampons, which are spikes attached to our shoes to improve traction, on the ice while secured to the rope. When I ascend the final few meters, I see that the summit ridge is covered by an unstable snow formation, which is when denser snow is on lighter snow.
This had happened before, but it never failed to catch Isabel off guard. For ten months, she had dealt with the mysterious destruction of expensive art and appliances and the god awful stench of smoke that lingered in the back of her throat. The agency had sent in top-level servicemen to watch for squatters, vandals, anything. But they had come up empty.
Harvard historian Donald Yacovone said, “white supremacy is a toxin. The older history textbooks were like syringes that injected the toxin of white supremacy into the mind of many generations of Americans.” Regardless of whether it is because of our history textbooks, our history curriculums, or even our history teachers, it is overwhelmingly obvious that we, the American youth, do not receive an adequate education in our history classrooms.
A personal flotation device is equipment designed to assist us to keep afloat in water. Despite their primary use being only to help us, many times, we cast them aside saying that they are too restrictive and uncomfortable. We think that we couldn’t possibly need them because we already know how to swim. We believe that there isn’t any way we could drown because we know everything there is to know about staying afloat.
Molly from the apartment above us is playing piano again, even though it’s long past dinnertime. I don’t recognize the song, but it’s a lovely, full sound, with a swelling of low chords that echoes into our apartment and a higher aria of notes that are harder to hear, but are still there if I listen closely.
He’d had a bad day and just needed something to make him feel better. He never intended to be stuck on a bridge in a city he didn’t recognize, hoping that someone would notice he was there. James barely knew how he got here. All he remembered was storming out of his house holding a duffel bag of clothes with his father shouting after him, getting on the train to god-knows-where, and then being woken up by the conductor, telling him that they had gotten to the last stop.
I light the wick of the grey wax with a gas lighter. The intersection of two generations, yet I cannot define what generation is embodied by letter sealing wax, and defining the gas lighter is even more daunting; I envision my parents and the parents of my parents as children, holding the lighter, the flame reflecting a thousand times over in their eyes.