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I first forgave myself in second grade. As I was drawn to new interests, I became aware of myself and the rich playground my earlier me – may I call this me “he”? – had constructed in me. I had outgrown him, and we both knew it.

It is difficult to distinguish between these two of me, even now, because it is the affection between the two, the finding of one only within the other, that led me to discover either of them. Sunday I saw an old couple whisper as if their parents might catch them. I wouldn’t have seen either of them – or either them or their parents – without their whisper, which I couldn’t make out. Pain requires only birth, but poignancy requires the separation of twins.

I heard the sweetest words from my earlier me that first day, walking my school’s playground in what I first knew then to be loneliness: “I forgive you.” And poignant, too: he said them, walked away from me, and ceased to be.

Mr. Trump called last night’s debate “elegant,” and poignancy is an elegant sadness. Years from now, perhaps, he will remember Mr. Cruz, that embodiment of strict construction. Strictly speaking, of course, no one can embody words; that’s the point of strict construction. Words, like cries like tears, don’t carry a human presence. As Mr. Trump finished off the Constitution, calling a billion brothers and sisters and mothers and fathers not human at all, Mr. Cruz seemed to whisper, as he faded away, “I forgive you.”

Note: this post appeared first on Instagram @peterstephens

A day of trailing glories. A wonderful, critical review in this morning’s Post of the Phillips’s new Paul G. Allen exhibition sent us there. A Microsoft cofounder who’s worth just over or under $18B “depending on which side of the bed the market got up on today,” Allen collects art like souvenirs, Philip Kennicott writes. Allen visits the Grand Canyon, but instead of taking snapshots of it, he collects paintings of it, and several are here. Same with Venice: Canaletto, Turner, Manet, Monet, Moran. Allen also has a thing for volcanoes. Philip Kennicott calls him a cypher whose comments in the catalog interview are “disturbingly inarticulate and jejune.” But these big, bold paintings are fun.

Finally got to see Avery’s Dancing Trees. Victoria saw me weeping from across the gallery. Couldn’t hold it in, either, before Hopper’s Clamdigger, which I didn’t know existed. Victoria loves to find things in paintings, and Jan Brueghel the Younger’s Five Senses series occupied her a great deal. But I stumped her when I asked her to find the doggie in Klimt’s Birch Forest. Hint: it’s in the base of a tree trunk on the worthy catalog’s dust cover (image #6 in the press release). Really more of a coyote. Above: Detail from Paul Signac’s Morning Calm, Concarneau, Opus 219 (Larghetto)

Note: this post appeared first on Instagram @peterstephens

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Six hours of shoveling just to clear two cars. A condo was the right idea, but I forgot to rent one with a garage.

The cars at 8:30.  35 inches, more or less, and it looks like it’s about over. The most I’d seen from a single storm up until the past two days was around 30 inches.

I graded yesterday and today, and I hope to get caught up over the next two days. Then lots of planning and some administrative work I’ve put off since the fall. I also want to take a long walk in the snow tomorrow morning. And to read more Walter Benjamin and the Baldwin biography I’m almost through. And to be with Victoria.