Lately I wake in the night gripped suddenly by a terrible fear that the world is moving too fast. However fast it moved would be too fast.
Now I'm sitting in the library of the Good Hope School, near Frederiksted. There's a fine mist in the air and the ocean—thickened with molasses from the rum distillery and gray under the gray clouds today—pushes abstractedly against the sand. I had rowed through a squall to the taxi and Tallulah ate her breakfast en route. Walking toward the school office, she exclaimed about the height of the trees, an ordinary height, but now they were set against buildings and looked to reach up to the open gallery on the second floor. I notice that her dress is stained and her ankles are spotted with mud. Also, her hair is tangled. My clothes are damp and slightly disheveled. Clearly we are not used to this kind of thing. But no one seems to care. I already know I can only exist in a place that tolerates, encourages, strangeness. I take my computer out of its bag and stick her snack in it and then on second thought shove in a large water bottle that makes it too heavy for her to carry. For some reason I have to do this.
We arrive at the classroom for her four-hour Pre-K “assessment.” A gregarious kid named Otis comes up and asks how old she is. Kids seem to care a lot about some things and not at all about others. Otis shows her a bunch of neon tetras in a tank. Engaged in some kind of conversation, she heads for the group of kids on the rug without bothering to say goodbye to me. I think that's OK. Maybe I've agreed to be caught up in the great centrifuge that seems to be gathering momentum around me. But somehow, this seems to be working.